He was known among colleagues as a “cautious reporter” – perhaps an oxymoron considering the alarming death of Daniel Pearl.
Pearl, The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia Bureau Chief, was reluctant to leave his pregnant wife to cover the war in Afghanistan. But he had it in is blood to find truth, and for that, his blood was shed.
Pearl went to Karachi to meet a contact and didn’t come home. A videocassette delivered later to police in the Sindh province indicated that after his kidnapping Pearl was brutally murdered by Pakistani militants: his throat slit and head dismembered.
The Wall Street Journal called the slaying an “Act of Barbarism.”
Much has been said about the inhumanity of the terrorists who murdered him and the callousness of those like them.
Less has been said about the valor of the man who laid down his life for the cause of truth, or of the heroism of those who are like him.
A statement from Pearl’s family described him as “a musician, a writer, a story-teller and a bridge-builder, he was a walking sunshine of truth, humor, friendship and compassion.”
His humanity emanated through his writing, as he typified the role of a journalist: to disseminate truth from those who have it to those who don’t.
That important quest often involves stepping outside an office of comfort to the devastating backdrop of war.
As many as 100 news media staff, like Pearl, were killed around the world in 2001, according to the International Federation of Journalists. Theirs is a low-paying, high-risk job.
Reporters are not merely out to sell papers; they are out to find truth.
Especially in times of war, journalists are indispensable. They serve as watchdogs and discourage countries from straying too far from internationally supported rules of engagement.
Terrorists understood that invaluable role as they targeted Pearl and threatened all American journalists in Pakistan.
They gutlessly accused U.S. journalists of working for intelligence agencies and warned that any American journalist still in the country after three days “will be targeted.”
Pearl’s wife recently commented, “What terrorists forget is that they may seize the life of an innocent man, but they cannot claim the spirit.”
Neither can they prevent truth from coming forward as long as the Daniel Pearl’s of the world still exist.
We salute Daniel Pearl for his absolute dedication to the search for truth, along with all of the journalists who selflessly serve the greater good of society.