For Immediate Release
Asra Nomani, 304 685-2189
Barbara Feinman Todd, 202 687-7136
Washington, D.C., — January 20, 2011 –Twenty-seven men were allegedly involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal bureau chief Daniel Pearl, but only four have been charged and convicted. Fourteen others who were allegedly part of the conspiracy remain free. Those are some of the important conclusions of The Pearl Project, a three-year investigation into the story behind the infamous crime. The report comes on the 9th anniversary of Pearl’s abduction in Karachi, Pakistan, on Jan. 23, 2002.
Led by former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani and Georgetown University Journalism Director Barbara Feinman Todd, a team of 32 students investigated the complex web of militants who orchestrated and carried out the plot that culminated in Pearl’s gruesome death.
“The Pearl Project reveals that justice was not served for Danny,” said Nomani. “We couldn’t save him, but we have uncovered the truth left behind. Through his death, Danny teaches us important lessons about the reality on the ground in Pakistan regarding militancy, Islamic extremism and terrorism.”
Among the findings:
♦ Doubts regarding 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s (KSM) confession during “waterboarding” were eased when FBI agents and CIA officials used a technique called vein-matching to compare the hand of the killer in the murder video with a photo of Mohammed’s hand.
♦ The report includes exclusive details from KSM’s interview in Guantanamo with FBI agents. KSM told FBI agents that he got a call to take over the kidnapping operation from al-Qaeda operative Saif el-Adel. KSM said he personally slit Pearl’s throat and severed his head to make certain he’d get the death penalty and to exploit the murder for “propaganda.” Some U.S. and Pakistani officials believe KSM may have been assisted by two of his nephews, Musaad Aruchi, whose whereabouts aren’t publicly known, and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, KSM’s trusted aide, who is incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.
♦ After 9/11, KSM designated his young nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, to be the facilitator for “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. When he was kidnapped, Pearl was chasing a story that a cleric, Sheik Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, was the facilitator. He wasn’t. Reid was an Al Qaeda operative.
♦ Almost half of those implicated in Pearl’s abduction-murder — 14 men with some alleged involvement — are thought to remain free. The list includes guards, drivers, and fixers tied to the conspiracy.
♦ In their haste to close the case, Pakistani authorities knowingly used perjured testimony to pin the actual act of murder on Omar Sheikh, the mastermind of the operation, and his three co-conspirators. While the four were involved in the kidnapping plan and certainly were culpable, they were not present when Pearl was murdered. Others, who were present and actually assisted in the beheading, were not charged.
♦ Omar Sheikh, who orchestrated the kidnapping plot, had contemplated bargaining over ransom demands for Pearl’s freedom, but that possibility faded when it became known that Pearl was Jewish and when Al Qaida operatives took charge of him.
The Truth Left Behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl is published by the Center for Public Integrity through its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Read the full investigation here.
“Pearl’s sad fate is well known, but details about the many players who perpetrated the crime have been shrouded – until now,” said William E. Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. “This is outstanding investigative reporting.”
The Pearl Project was funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
"Our country relies on journalists such as Danny Pearl to give us the truth about what is going on in a war zone,” said Robert J. Ross, president and chief executive officer. “We know he and many other journalists put their lives on the line every day and we are pleased to support the efforts to find out the truth about what happened to Danny. At EEJF, we promote accurate and credible investigative journalism and this project has certainly met all of our expectations."
The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent digital news organization specializing in original investigative journalism on significant public policy issues. Since 1990, the Washington, D.C.-based Center has released more accountability of government and other institutions. The Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of 100 reporters in 50 countries who collaborate on cross-border projects. The Center and ICIJ have received more than 33 major journalism awards, including honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Online News Association, Overseas Press Club, and Society of Professional Journalists.
The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation’s mission is to invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information. EEJF does so through contributions to media institutions and journalism schools nationwide, primarily in areas of investigative reporting, youth education, professional development, and special opportunities.
The Pearl Project is a faculty-student investigative reporting project at Georgetown University. Started in 2007, the project began with the investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. It has conducted another investigation into media and human rights issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo.