Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Muhammed Ali - From the black supremacist Nation of Islam to Islamist pawn - Ali's fans deny and the sordid facts of his career
Muhammed Ali - From the black supremacist Nation of Islam to Islamist pawn - Ali's fans deny and the sordid facts of his career
Judea Pearl cites Ali's letter on behalf of his kidnapped son - refuses to acknowledge it as opportunistic PR stunt
December 1, 2005
MIM: In a previous article entitled "Muhammed Ali vs George Bush", Dr. Daniel Pipes explained why awarding Ali the 'Presidential Medal of Freedom' was antithetical to everything Bush claimed to stand for, and proclaimed it 'the nadir of his career'. The article elicited a tremendous response prompting Dr. Pipes to write an article with information based on Jack Cashill's forthcoming book on Ali called "Sucker Punch- The hard left hook that dazed Ali and killed King's Dream'.
In his article Dr.Pipes cites a letter he received from Judea Pearl, the father of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was decapitated by Islamic terrorists. Judea Pearl claimed that Ali had written a letter to the terrorists asking them to free his son in the name of Allah. As Dr. Pipes pointed out - that may have been the case - but it in no way erases Ali's record of anti semitism and white supremism which is at the core of his Islamist beliefs. By the time Ali would have written the letter - his Parkinsons disease was so advanced that the plea would have had to have been the work of his handlers.
A look at the letter reveals that it was a public relations stunt - and was not about Daniel Pearl, but about damage control regarding the bad rap Islam was getting as a result of the Pearl kidnapping. In fact the letter blatantly pleaded for Pearl's release on the grounds that 'he could have been of use in getting the Muslim point of view across', and that it would be a miscalculation to kill a journalist with liberal leanings.
This idea was expressed by none other then the Pearl Foundation itself in a press release announcing a journalist internship for Pakistanis at the Wall Street Journal:
"...Underwritten by the Daniel Pearl Foundation and administered under the program created by Alfred Friendly, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning former managing editor of the Washington Post, the Daniel Pearl Fellowship will initially give strong preference to applicants from Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal has agreed to host the first Daniel Pearl Fellow (DPF) in its Washington, DC Bureau where Daniel Pearl worked as a reporter from 1993 until 1996."This is an important day for the Foundation and for Danny's legacy" said Judea Pearl, president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation formed this year and father of the slain Wall Street Journal bureau chief. "This fellowship is an example of what Danny stood for, bridging cultures and fostering journalistic excellence. I believe he would be very proud of this program."
"...To be considered for the Daniel Pearl Fellowship, journalists applying to AFPF in 2003 from Pakistan must submit a two-page statement explaining how their career goals match the mission and spirit of Daniel Pearl as a journalist and a human being. This essay is in addition to all other AFPF application materials.
The paradox overshadowing Pearl's death was that his killers, Islamic militants angry with the West, murdered a reporter who was particularly sensitive to their views and grievances and committed to explaining them to his readers. Daniel Pearl wrote objectively and often about the hardships and aspirations of people in Islamic countries, most notably Dubai, Iran, Kosovo, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. This fellowship will focus on connecting journalists from Muslim countries with their American counterparts..." http://www.pressfellowships.org/Dpearlpressrelease.html
MIM:Unfortunately, Judea Pearl is so intent on proving that he is not mistaken in his universalist views, that he would rather embrace any sign that he was right and deny the facts which show that he and his son are fatally miscalculating the real intentions of the Muslims who claim to be on their side. One look at those endorsing their efforts show this to be the case:
"...It's not a bad idea for Ahmed and Pearl to keep talking; this may be among the few statements the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American Jewish Committee currently agree on. But that doesn't mean they're changing hearts and minds -- or policies..."
Muhammad Ali's "Beautiful Soul"
by Daniel Pipes FrontPageMagazine.com December 1, 2005
In an article two days ago, " Muhammad Ali v. George W. Bush," I castigated President Bush bestowing a prestigious award on former boxer Muhammad Ali and for lavishly praising Ali's beautiful soul, his compassion, and his being a man of peace. I offered some evidence to the contrary and concluded by calling this incident "the nadir of his presidency."
The column prompted a fair amount of comment, positive and negative. I'd like to note here two noteworthy responses. One is from Judea Pearl, father of the late Daniel Pearl, murdered by Islamists in Pakistan in 2002:
When Danny was in captivity, we pleaded with Louis Farrakhan and Muhammad Ali to use their influence in the Muslim world and issue an appeal for his release. Farrakhan said: "Not ready." Ali did not hesitate a minute and issued a plea that only Satan could resist; it was published next day in Pakistan. Ali further called me by phone and insisted on being invited to the party, once Danny is released. Jesse Jackson then made a statement, without our even soliciting him. At that point, Farrakhan came back and said: I am ready. But by then, it was too late. I appreciate Ali's coming forward and, when I spoke at Danny's memorial (which Ali and his wife attended), I called him "a champion of humanity." Later on, though, when we asked him to join the Honorary Board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, he declined on the grounds that he must focus his energy on his own foundation.
To which my response is this: I am delighted to hear that Muhammad Ali did these good deeds. But by 2002 he was far along with Parkinsonism, so his decisions were largely made by his handlers in his name. These do not provide real insight into his character.
That character, rather, was shown earlier, when Ali had full control of his facilities. To understand that better, I turn to Jack Cashill, author of the forthcoming book, Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream. Cashill sent me a copy of the book manuscript and it, to say the least, confirms my thesis about Ali's poor behavior. Here is an excerpt, reviewing Ali's negative accomplishments during his first crucial years in the public eye, 1960-75:
Ali knowingly betrayed Malcolm X, a betrayal that led at least indirectly to Malcolm's assassination.
Ali publicly turned his back on his press secretary, Leon 4X Ameer, which led to Ameer's death.
When Nation of Islam activists executed five friends and family of the Hanafi sect—four of them children—Ali did not quit the Nation or even publicly protest. Nor did the media ask him to.
For at least four years running Ali publicly degraded Joe Frazier, often along the crudest racial lines. "There's a great honor about Joe," says baseball great Reggie Jackson. "That was evident in the way he fought. And Muhammad ridiculed Joe; he humiliated him in front of the world."
Ali also verbally and physically abused Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell, two men who did not deserve it.
Ali was an unapologetic sexist. "In the Islamic world," he told Playboy, "the man's the boss, and the woman stays in the background. She don't want to call the shots." He wrote this in 1975, three years into the doomed struggle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Feminists still wrestle over this one.
While the black family was under assault, with its rate of unwed births nearly tripling during these fifteen years, Ali was fathering children out of wedlock with at least one teenage girl.
He also was about to leave four of his children without a father in the home after rejecting their Muslim mother for a more glamorous, only marginally black eighteen year-old.
Belinda Ali was the second wife he had publicly humiliated. Sonji was the first.
Ali remained an unabashed racist, calling for an American apartheid and the lynching of interracial couples as late as 1975.
In the years that mattered, Ali drove a wedge between the races. This may not have been evident to the cultural elite, but anyone who had been at Gary or like venues would know exactly what I mean.
He routinely denigrated black heroes who did not share his point of view, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall among them.
He continuously belittled and undermined Christianity, a bedrock of cultural stability in black America.
Ali shamelessly courted some of the most brutal dictators on the planet: Qaddafi, Idi Amin, Papa Doc Duvalier, Nkrumah, Mobutu, Marcos.
One of those dictators, Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Wa Za Banga, was complicit in the death of the black nationalist hero, Patrice Lumumba.
Ali helped launch the career of Don King.
And, oh yes, he rejected his country in its hour of need and expressed no regret at the fate of those millions we all abandoned. The man who compelled him to do so had conspired with the Japanese and cheered them on at Pearl Harbor.
With due understatement, Cashill comments that this summing up, "however unpleasant, sheds some useful light both on the young Ali and the generation that made him."
I repeat: this is not someone suitable to be honored by the president of the United States.
From www.danielpipes.org | Original article available at: www.danielpipes.org/article/3161
MIM:In his article "Muhammed Ali's "Beautiful Soul" Dr.Pipes quotes a letter from Yehuda Pearl who lauds Muhammed Ali by saying that he wrote a letter to try to save his son Daniel Pearl. A close examination of the letter shows it was a calculated public relations stunt which attempted to counteract the 'bad rap' which Islam was getting as a result of the highly publicised kidnapping. It is also worth noting that Ali, (i.e. his handlers) wrote that :
"Muslims must lead by example" just as the prophet Mohammed had 1400 years ago.
"Daniel is a professional journalist. His job is to give a voice to those who wish to be heard by the world community,"…"
In other words, it was not about Daniel Pearl, but about 'damage control' and Islam.
It is unfortunate to note that Judea Pearl has succumbed to the misguided liberal (universalist) idea that running around the world together with Muslims like Akbar Ahmed and appearing with Muqtedar Khan in a highbrow version of 'kumbaya' will somehow serve the interests of his son's legacy. He is also giving undeserved legitimacy to Ali , who also promotes a radical Islamist agenda and is virulently anti semitic.
Judea Pearl's and the Daniel Pearl's Foundation close working association with Akhbar Ahmed is troubling to say the least. On the Du Plains Speakers Bureau bio states that Ahmed was an official in the Pakistani government who had jurisidiction over Waziristan. In addition Ahmed was given an award by the radical Islamist MPAC the Muslim Public Affairs Council (which works closely with CAIR). Waziristan is the headquarters of Al Qaeda and it is inconceivable that Ahmed held such a high position in the Pakistani government, if he was not on some level considered to be loyal to the government's interests, which includes appeasing Islamists on one hand, while periodically showing the West that they are doing something against terrorism in exchange for the millions of dollars the US is investing in Pakistan.
An excerpt from Ahmed Speakers bio reveals that :
"…Dr. Ahmed joined the Civil Service of Pakistan, the elite cadre of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, in 1966. He held important posts in Pakistan and Bangladesh—including Commissioner, Quetta; Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency; Founder-Director General of the National Center for Rural Development, Islamabad. He resigned from service in the summer of 2000. Parallel to his civil service career, Dr. Ahmed was visiting professor at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton…. He is also the recipient of the 2002 "Free Speech Award" given by the Muslim Public Affairs Council..."
Pearl and Ahmed heading to a public dialogue at the College of William and Mary. (Photograph by Silvia Otte)
MIM: In a five page WPost article Pearl was depicted as a bereaved parent on mission whereas Akhbar Ahmed was revealed as a pretentious pundit revelling in his new found celebrity as part of the Pearl - Ahmed roadshow. Ahmed also belitted Americans and what he calls "supposed experts on Islam who say "Islam is terrorism - Islam is extremism" .According to Ahbar - "America is being misled" and he finds it "frightening for a superpower to be so ill -Informed". The writer of the story informs us that Ahmed who was once chief administrator of the terrorist enclave of Waziristan feels that "if he doesnt accept media requests" someone less qualified "who may not even be a Muslim" would be interviewed" and arrogantly asks "if I don't do it - who is going to do it?". For good measure Ahbar opines that capturing Bin Laden is really quite insignificant in the long term".http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19541-2004Jul27.html
MIM: Excerpts from the Washington Post article:
"... A much-honored computer scientist at UCLA, Pearl has been more accustomed to addressing conferences on artificial intelligence. Now he's on a different mission.
"I wasn't born for this," he says. "This strange mixing of tragedy and celebrity and friendship." He looks very tired.
Akbar Ahmed, on the other hand, probably was born for a high-profile public life. On an early spring day in Washington, Ahmed is in a taxi heading downtown from American University, where he holds a chair in Islamic studies, for a quick BBC interview.
Too often he has heard supposed experts on television. " 'Islam is terrorism,' 'Islam is extremism' -- they're 'explaining' Islam, and I'm telling myself, America is being misled," Ahmed complains in the cab. "It's frightening for a superpower to be so ill-informed."
Today's headlines report Pakistani troops hunting al Qaeda forces in Waziristan, the remote region where Ahmed -- who for decades balanced a high-level career in Pakistan's civil service with his academic appointments -- was once the chief administrator. If he doesn't accept media requests, will the interviewee replacing him know as much about that part of the world? Or even be a Muslim? "If I don't do it, who's going to do it?"
In the studio, mike clipped to his tie, he crisply tells an interviewer in London about the terrain and tribes in Waziristan, the potential dangers, and what he sees as the long-term insignificance of one day capturing Osama bin Laden. Minutes later, he dashes out to the waiting cab, back to campus....
And then, if one believes in a guiding hand that causes odd confluences of events (Ahmed does), consider this one: After years of interfaith activity in Britain, after leaving his ambassadorship ("all diplomats have to get up and, in a very smooth and charming way, tell lies") and resigning from the civil service, after another year at Princeton, he accepted an offer to teach at American University -- and arrived in the U.S. capital weeks before September 11, 2001. "Since then until today," he says, "I don't think I've had a peaceful 24 hours."
By now, his life is an interfaith dialogue. He's perennially maneuvering disparate people into the same room by, say, accepting a speaking engagement at a tiny Iowa college ("I was the first Muslim they'd ever seen") or bringing South Asian Muslims from a State Department seminar to a Passover seder. It requires faith in small victories.
At 61, Ahmed remains the cautious diplomat, but it's clear that he's appalled by the consequences of the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq; every bomb that falls on Muslims, he says, strengthens the appeal of Osama bin Laden. As a South Asian, he's avoided wading squarely into the Arab-Israeli conflict but laments the way it's damaging relations between Islam and Judaism. Nothing he sees on CNN makes him sanguine.
Onstage, Ahmed introduces his usual theme: that the merciful Islam he knows is unrecognized by the West and in danger of being usurped by some of its own angry, dispossessed believers. Pearl asks, as he often does, why Muslim leaders don't exorcise their dangerous fanatics. Ahmed acknowledges "a problem with leadership across the Muslim world" but complains that when leaders do condemn extremism, the Western media ignore them. Pearl, trying to point out that Judaism isn't the enemy, suggests that American Jews, veterans of civil rights battles, could help "our neighbor Muslims" with the legal fallout they've faced since September 11.
There are a few tense moments. "What if you were to run a poll in, say, a village in Morocco and ask them who they would choose as a role model for their children," Pearl asks, "Jinnah or Osama bin Laden?" Mohammed Ali Jinnah, everyone who knows Ahmed soon learns, was Pakistan's democratic-minded founder. But the current answer to the question, Ahmed acknowledges, is bin Laden.
"So the idea that al Qaeda represents only a negligible minority . . . that's wrong," Pearl concludes.
Not so, says Ahmed. Muslims are drawn to bin Laden "as a symbol: This man is standing up and talking on our behalf." That doesn't mean they subscribe to his philosophy. "Osama's actions, you need to know this, are not rooted in Islam," he insists; the Koran condemns the murder of innocents.
Perhaps there's not much expressed that people couldn't learn by reading a few books, but the interfaith roadshow is more compelling, more moving, more alive. Listeners seem touched by an uncommon response from a man who's suffered a harrowing loss; they're reassured, though also alarmed, by what his counterpart has to say. The crowd gives Pearl and Ahmed a standing ovation.
It's not a bad idea for Ahmed and Pearl to keep talking; this may be among the few statements the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American Jewish Committee currently agree on. But that doesn't mean they're changing hearts and minds -- or policies..."
MIM: A journalist for WSJ who was in Pakistan at the time of the Pearl kidnapping wrote an article about the search for Pearl. What is worth noting is that Asma Normani, who calls herself a practicing Muslim, also interviewed Taliban members in their home while in Pakistan. Which begs the question of just how much she herself knows about the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, and how she was able to gain such close access to the Taliban, while living as a single woman alone in Karachi? Ihttp://www.jazbah.org/asran2.php
Another question is why she rented a house knowing that as a journalist she would catch the attention of the Pakistani Security forces. Even more disturbing is why the Danny Pearl and his wife left the relative safety of the hotel they were in to stay with her. http://in.rediff.com/news/2004/oct/01raman.htm
MIM: Nomani was obviously extremely aware of the ties of the Pakistanis to terrorism. So it is quite interesting that she as a Muslim woman was able to interview Taliban in their homes and also host a Jewish American journalist in her home.
"...Pakistan's possible link to terrorism is already an extremely volatile subject. Pakistan, struggling to maintain its position as an ally of the U.S., bristles at any suggestion that the Pearl kidnappers had relations with the ISI. The allegation by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levvy that Sheikh was an ISI agent, contained in his book "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" sparked a harsh rebuke from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf last month. "ISI involvement in the killing of this young man is unthinkable," the president insisted.
But of course it is quite thinkable, because of the shadowy way the ISI operates. Musharraf himself struggles constantly against the former generals who run the intelligence arm, which has historically maintained close relations with many of the country's rogue terrorist groups, and seems to operate independently of the president's authority. U.S. officials, because of their own need for a close ally in Musharraf, also struggle to hide their frustrations with his unruly intelligence arm. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, during a meeting a few weeks ago with members of Congress, implied as much when he said he did not believe "affection for working with us extends up and down the rank and file of the Pakistani security community."
And no one symbolizes the ISI's shadowy relationship with terrorist operatives better than Omar Sheikh.
A judge in an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced Sheikh to death for his role as the ringleader in Danny's kidnapping and murder last July. An appeal has been pending ever since with countless postponements. Throughout his trial last year, Omar Sheikh maintained that -- although he knew how, and by whom, Danny had been killed -- he was not himself responsible. The judge sentenced three other young Pakistani men to life sentences for their roles in facilitating the kidnapping and disseminating hostage letters, including digital photographs of Danny in captivity, via the Internet.
MIM: In this article Daniel Pearl's father makes a comparision to his son's murder and that of Nicolas Berg. It should be noted that after the beheading of his son by Al Qaeda's Al Zarqawi, Berg joined with the pro terrorist anti semitic A.N.S.W.E.R. group which was founded by former attorney general Ramsey Clark, who is now defending Saddam Hussein. More grotesquely still, at an A.N.S.W.E.R. in 2005, a message was read by Nicolas Berg's father. At the same rally , the father of convicted Al Qaeda member Ahmed Abu Ali, who was convicted of plotting to kill president Bush and set up a terrorist training camp, was a keynote speaker at the event. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1306
MIM: Judea Pearl lauds his son as someone who was giving a voice to Muslims and sympathised with them . An article which accounts for his time in Pakistan confirms that he was indeed 'trying to understand the Jihadi's point of view' and even cultivated an acquaintance with 'the official biographer of Osama Bin Laden', who came to like him because he perceived him as a potential PR 'ally'.
"...Danny made another valuable acquaintance in Hamid Mir, editor of Islamabad's Urdu-language Daily Ausaf and selfproclaimed "official biographer of Osama Bin Laden.
Mir, a Taliban enthusiast, was wary of Danny until they attended an anti-American street demonstration in November.
Several hundred were on hand, chanting denunciations of the U.S. and fealty to bin Laden, Danny in the midst of them.
"People were burning the flag of the United States of America ... and I was real careful that I should not become a victim of that fire," says Mir. "But he was standing right under the flag. I said, 'Danny, you should be careful!' He said, 'I want to see in their eyes why they hate us.' I said, 'At least there is one American journalist who wants to find out the reasons."' http://membres.lycos.fr/tthreat/article9.htm
The world has had to witness the horrific murder of Nicholas Berg, a young American man from Philadelphia. Two years ago, my son, Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was the victim of a similar attack on humanity. Daniel's legacy as a bridge builder and dialogue maker compels me to communicate a personal message to the many friends that he left behind in the Muslim world.
I am not directing this letter to the followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is thought to have beheaded Nicholas Berg, or to Osama bin Laden. Rather, I am speaking to those who can win the minds of the young and faithful to the side of hope: intellectual leaders who pride themselves on peace and modernity, and clerics, imams and mullahs who have been voicing concern over the hijacking of Islam by a minority of anti-Islamic extremists. You now have the opportunity to bestow honor on your faith and pride on your children.
I beseech you to join the courageous Muslims who have denounced, in unambiguous language, not only the killing of Nicholas Berg, but the growing practice of killing innocent human beings as a means of communicating grievances - irrespective of how valid or urgent the grievance.
No civilized society can survive the intensity of modern conflicts unless such killings are repelled back to the realm of the inconceivable.
As a father of a person who experienced the horrors of captivity, I can personally feel the anguish of the parents of the Iraqi prisoners who were abused in the Abu Ghraib prison. I nevertheless appeal to you, intellectual leaders of the Muslim community, to unilaterally refrain from joining the cycle of accusation of "who treated who worse" and help transform it into a contest of pride: "Whose role models are more humane."
This transformation can become a reality if condemnations of the recent horrors are not left to political leaders, but become a public outcry at the grassroots level.
I therefore urge Muslim clerics to cast their denunciation in plain religious vocabulary, to proclaim these crimes to be sins, or blasphemy, and to remind their followers that the murderers of Nicholas Berg, Fabrizio Quattrocchi and Daniel Pearl will be punished by God Himself, as it is said: "We have prepared fire for the wrongdoers" (Koran: 16).
Muslim clerics can further guard the image of Islam by issuing fatwas against the perpetrators of those acts, thus mobilizing their communities to take a proactive role in the apprehension of those perpetrators, and in bringing them to justice. (Recall, the murderers of Daniel Pearl are still at large, and his abductors are still mocking justice, two years after their conviction.)
The American public has reacted to the Abu Ghraib atrocities with outrage, seriousness and resoluteness. I am proud of this reaction because I know that self-criticism is a prerequisite to progress and self-improvement. My grandchildren will live in a better society because of this outrage. To Muslim clerics I say that you, too, have a chance today to shape your children's future, by turning your condemnation into a public outcry.
As a devout disciple of my son, I feel an obligation to communicate this appeal to you: Let us make those inhumane killings a thing of the past.
I hope you accept the sincerity of my appeal by virtue of the respect that my son held for your faith, his unshaken belief in humanity and, in particular, by virtue of the faithful way he amplified the voices of your brothers and sisters from Iran to Yemen, from Sudan to Pakistan.
Let us create the conditions for mutual respect, not mutual accusation.
Judea Pearl, a professor of computer science at the University of California in Los Angeles, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (www.danielpearl.org) and co-editor of "I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl" (Jewish Lights, 2004). This article, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, was also written for THE DAILY STAR
MIM: Biographical information on Ahkbar Ahmed from the Du Plains speakers bureau.
Fee Range: $5,000 to $10,000
Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC, is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, and has advised Prince Charles and met with President George W. Bush on Islam. Dr. Ahmed is a distinguished anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society for many years.
The BBC described him as, "Professor Akbar Ahmed – the world's leading authority on contemporary Islam." Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, described him as "one of the most important scholars of Islam today." Adding, "Professor Ahmed has impeccable credentials." Emel, one of the UK's leading Muslim magazines, had a feature story with illustrations and called him "the new Ibn Khaldun" (Nov/Dec 2004).
Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK, wrote to Professor Ahmed, "Thank you for the wisdom and generosity of spirit you are constantly showing through your spoken and written words. I cannot tell you how important your voice is right now. These are fateful times - and in you classic Islam has a spokesman and role model of supreme grace and dignity. May God/Allah be with you in all you do - and I thank you from the depth of my heart."
Dr. Ahmed joined the Civil Service of Pakistan, the elite cadre of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, in 1966. He held important posts in Pakistan and Bangladesh—including Commissioner, Quetta; Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency; Founder-Director General of the National Center for Rural Development, Islamabad. He resigned from service in the summer of 2000. Parallel to his civil service career, Dr. Ahmed was visiting professor at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
Dr. Ahmed is the author of many books on contemporary Islam, including Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, which was the basis of the BBC six-part TV series called "Living Islam". His Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise was nominated for the Amalfi Award, and his "Jinnah Quartet," a four-part project on Pakistan's founding father, M.A. Jinnah, has won numerous international awards. His Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World was rated among the best non-fiction books of the year by the Los Angeles Times. Professor Ahmed's most recent book is Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World. The book was the subject of the award-winning "Dialogue" series at the Woodrow Wilson Center. His books have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Indonesian.
Dr. Ahmed's books Resistance and Control in Pakistan andPostmodernism and Islamhave been revised and republished and were launched at the House of Commons in July, 2004, by Lords, Members of Parliament, scholars and the media. They were also launched at the "Politics and Prose" bookstore, Washington, DC, on September 1, 2004, an event covered by C-Span television. Dr. Ahmed wrote the foreword to Dr. Tamara Sonn's recently published book A Brief History of Islam. He is co-editing After Terror: Promoting the Dialogue of Civilizations with Dr. Brian Forst, which will be published by Polity Press in March 2005 and is working on Debating Islam with his daughter Dr. Amineh Ahmed.
He was given the 2004 Professor of the Year Award for Washington DC by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He was given the 2004 Scholar of the Year Award by the Pakistani-American Congress and he is the recipient of the Star of Excellence in Pakistan and the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal given by the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in London. He is also the recipient of the 2002 "Free Speech Award" given by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and in 2004 he received the Gandhi Center Fellowship of Peace Award, the Sir Sayyed Ahmed Memorial Award, the Safeer Pakistan Award and the Coudert Institute Award. Dr. Ahmed was invited to join the legendary figures in Anthropology's Hall of Fame as part of the "Anthropological Ancestors" audio-visual interview series at Cambridge University in July 2004.
He was appointed Trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 2003, the Bishop of Washington DC appointed him Charter Member of a national-level interfaith initiative based at the National Cathedral. He was asked to join the World Wisdom Council, the Board of Interfaith Advisors for the Council on Faith and International Affairs, the Institute for Global Engagement, The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Family Voices (Victims of 9/11) and the International Institute for Mediation and Historical Conciliation. He was Co-Chair of the "Hope Not Hate" Town Hall meetings in the US organized by the Americans for Informed Democracy in 2004.
Dr. Akbar Ahmed has delivered a number of keynote addresses to prestigious organizations. He addressed members of Congress at the bipartisan Congressional retreat in Greenbrier. He has lectured at the National Defense University, Foreign Service Training Institute, USAID and the State Department. He has conducted courses on Islam as Chief Moderator for the Society of Fellows Seminar and the Socrates Society at the Aspen Institute, the Young President's Organization, and the World Bank. He was the featured speaker in the Summer Speakers Series of the Aspen Institute in 2003. Speaker at World Leaders on Faith and Development Conference, Dublin, January 31 – February 1, 2005 (also attended the first Conference at Canterbury in 2002). Evensong, hosted by Bishop John Chane, in the Nave of the Washington National Cathedral honoring Dr. Ahmed, February 20, 2005.
With Dr. Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, he has been engaged in public dialogues across the country and abroad. Dr. Ahmed spoke with Dr. Judea Pearl at the House of Lords in London, where they were welcomed by a Jewish, a Muslim, and a Christian Lord. They also spoke at the residence of the US Ambassador in London. They spoke at the launch of the Jewish-Muslim Alliance at a reception hosted by the British Foreign Minister. They also met with UK's Chief Rabbi and visited a Muslim and a Jewish school as part of the Chief Rabbi's annual address to the nation broadcast by BBC television. Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Pearl will tour Canada and South Africa in 2005.
Dr. Ahmed makes frequent media appearances in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, PBS's "Think Tank", NBC "Nightly News", NPR and BBC. He has appeared several times on the "Oprah Winfrey Show". He serves on the advisory board of the Globalist and the editorial board for the Journal of Human Rights. Dr. Ahmed is a regular syndicated columnist for Religion News Service. The Washington Post carried a major story on the Ahmed-Pearl dialogue on August 1 and C-Span broadcast their dialogue in Baltimore in November several times. Dr. Ahmed was a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London and is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.
Dr. Ahmed's 2005 Speaking Schedule:
-University of Kansas - 2/16/2005 - Duke University - 2/28/2005 Dialogue - Vanderbilt University - 3/28/2005 - Palm Beach Fellowship - 4/10/2005 - St. Vincent's College - 4/14/2005 - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal - 5/3/2005 Dialogue in Canada - University Wisconsin/ World Affairs Council - 6/12/2005 - Buffalo State University - 10/2/2005
MIM: The Judea Pearl Ahkbar Ahmed USA -UK roadshow was sponsored in part by the America Jewish Committee and the UK part by Q - News.
Q News is a glossy Muslim magazine which with a trendy hip facade but promotes an Islamist agenda.
Directly after 9/11 the editor of Q- News brought the American ambassador in London to tears when she said at a forum that Americans had brought the attacks on themselves.
For her part Marianne Pearl, who is a Buddhist, refused to acknowledge on Larry King that Pearl was killed because he was a Jew . Her denial has been a source of contention between her and Judea Pearl. Rather then admit that her Buddhist view of the world is akin to Holocaust denial - she like Judea Pearl, persist in trying to prove that the world is indeed a wonderful place and that everyone can love one another if they just learn the lyrics to Kumbaya in each other's language.
Forum: Daniel Pearl and the Law of Unintended Consequences
David Shtulman sees an atrocity lead to an unprecedented cross-cultural exchange
Sunday, July 11, 2004
One can only speculate as to the intended message when Islamist extremists murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Pakistan, in February 2002, or what they thought would be the result.
David Shtulman is executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Committee (ShtulmanD@ajc.org).
Pearl's wife, Mariane, said in a statement issued at the time, "From this act of barbarism, terrorists expect all of us to bow our heads and retreat as victims forever threatened by their ruthlessness." If Mariane Pearl was correct in her assessment, then the terrorists were in for a big disappointment, for that single action has resulted in the birth of one of the most important efforts today to rebuild Muslim-Jewish understanding.
The Law of Unintended Consequences states that actions of people or governments often have consequences that are unexpected or unintended. The murder of Daniel Pearl is a case in point. The murderers of Daniel Pearl did not anticipate that the Pearl family in California, rather than collapse in grief, would declare war on the religious and ethnic hatred that took Daniel's life by creating the Daniel Pearl Foundation to promote cross-cultural understanding.
Neither did they anticipate that Prof. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldoun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington D.C., a son of Karachi and a leading Muslim voice on behalf of interfaith dialogue, would see this murder as symbolic of a collapse of true Islamic values that must be confronted.
Nor could they have anticipated that Daniel's father, Judea Pearl, and Akbar Ahmed would join their voices together for the first time in Pittsburgh, launching what would become an international dialogue for Muslim-Jewish understanding. Yet that is exactly what happened.
When Lewis Jaffe of Latrobe made a blind call to the American Jewish Committee in June 2003, urging us to sponsor a program that would bring Ahmed and Pearl together, no one had any thoughts beyond a single event. But when the program, held at the University of Pittsburgh in October 2003, was so positively received, it became clear that Ahmed and Pearl had a message that needed to be heard.
The program was repeated under AJC auspices in Philadelphia in January 2004, and Stephen Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, with the active encouragement of Gov. Ed Rendell, joined the team supporting Ahmed and Pearl.
By the time a third successful program was held in April at the College of William and Mary, the initiative had adopted the formal name, "The Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding featuring Dr. Akbar Ahmed and Dr. Judea Pearl." Media stories about their joint efforts were appearing nationally and in the Muslim world from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. Invitations to speak were coming from across the United States.
Last month, Stephen Glassman, Lewis Jaffe and I accompanied Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl to London for a week of events. Q-News, a monthly Muslim magazine with a reputation for challenging the conventional wisdom of the British Muslim community, sponsored the trip with support from the Stone Ashdown Trust, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the American Embassy.
Ahmed and Pearl helped to launch a new British dialogue program called Aleph-Alif at an elegant reception of 300 people hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks accompanied them on visits to the Islamia School where they met with faculty and shared tales about Moses with elementary school children, and to the Jewish Free School, where they discussed the need to break down religious barriers with 200 high school students. A film crew from BBC's Religion and Ethics program filmed the visits.
The Muslim baroness, Pola Uddin, hosted Ahmed and Pearl, together with Lord George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, and Simon Haskell, a Jewish peer, in a packed Moses Room at the House of Lords. David Johnson, charge d'affaires at the American Embassy, hosted a reception and dinner at his home for Britain's most prominent interfaith leaders where they discussed the need to challenge religious extremism.
International media outlets like the BBC World Service, Voice of America and even Al Jazeera sought interview time with Ahmed and Pearl.
Are Ahmed and Pearl changing the nature of the Muslim-Jewish relationship today? Not yet. Attitudinal change within and between communities is a long and difficult process, and there is a great deal of animosity and distrust to overcome. But Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl are demonstrating that the fear and hatred generated by religious extremists can be countered by the efforts of individuals equally committed to the shared values of our Abrahamic faiths.
Over the last year I have watched their relationship grow from one of polite respect to committed partnership, and their message evolve from a call for communal understanding to a challenge to communities to confront and reject religious extremism on all sides.
They challenge the rest of us to decide what kind of world we want for ourselves and for our children. Will we wring our hands and blame "the other" in the face of religious violence, hatred and dehumanization? Or will we have the courage to reject religious extremism in all its forms and tell its proponents that there is no place for them in our communities? There is little room in this equation for ambivalence and we will all suffer the consequences of inaction together.
MIM: Background on the Danny Pearl murder. It is worth noting that the biographical information above shows that Ahkbar Ahmed who is now going around with Judea Pearl in a Jewish Muslim lovefest was a high ranking official in the Pakistani government and served as the 'Political Agent South Waziristan Agency' until 2000. (Waziristan is a known terrorist enclave).Which begs the question as to how many friends he has in the Pakistani secret services whom he continues to 'keeps in touch with' while also 'advising President Bush (and the State Department), on Islam.
The Journalist and The Terrorist (Daniel Pearl and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh)
The Journalist and The Terrorist By Robert Sam Anson Vanity Fair, August 2002
The reporter who comes to Karachi, Pakistan is given certain cautions.
Do not take a taxi from the airport; arrange for the hotel to send a car and confirm the driver's identity before getting in. Do not stay in a room that faces the street. Do not interview sources over the phone. Do not discuss subjects such as Islam or the Pakistani nuclear program in the presence of hotel staff. Do not leave notes or tape recordings in your room. Do not discard work papers in the waste basket; flush them down the toilet. Do not use public transportation or accept rides from strangers. Do not go into markets, movie theaters, parks, or crowds. Do not go anywhere without telling a trustworthy someone the destination and expected time of return. And, above all, do not go alone. Ever.
The Marriott in Karachi satisfies lodging guidelines. Metal detectors flank the entrances, guards with sawed-off shotguns patrol the premises, and the shopping arcade leads directly to the U.S. Consulate — which seemed a plus until a car bomb killed 12 people there on June 14. My room, per instruction, is on the Marriott's backside, and offers a fine view of the nearby Sheraton, where a bus containing 11 French nationals was blown up by a suicide bomber in May.
It is also where, according to a U.S. official, F.B.I. agents recovered a videotape showing an American journalist having his head cut off. His name was Daniel Pearl, he was 38 years old, a father-to-be, and South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He got the same security briefing I did.
By now, the horror that befell Danny Pearl is deeply engraved. A handsome young man, loved by everyone —"Sweetest guy in the world," friends call him — goes to a rendezvous he believes will lead him to a scoop. Instead, terrorists are waiting to snatch him from the street. They issue photographs of Danny in chains, a pistol held to his head, and charge that he is a spy and will be executed unless demands are met. Danny's French wife, Mariane — six months pregnant with their first child— appears on television to appeal for his life. But there is only silence.
Then, just when things are at their darkest, the terrorist ringleader, a former British public-school boy named Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, is arrested and says Danny is alive. Hopes soar as Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, predicts his imminent freedom. But all that is released is the videotape. "My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish," it records Daniel Pearl saying. Then he is butchered.
We've been told that Danny was not only a great reporter, with an eye for the offbeat and the absurd, but a cautious one — not the sort who'd look for trouble. We've heard how he grew up in suburban Los Angeles, went to Stanford, and landed at the Journal, which sent him to Atlanta, Washington, London, Paris, and, finally, Bombay, a posting he accepted after confirming that there were venues where Mariane could exercise her passion for salsa dancing. We've had described how he was skeptical in the best sense of the word, questioning things taken for granted, unearthing stories others overlooked.
He was working that way on his last story, an investigation of the connections between the "shoe-bomber," Richard C. Reid, and a virulently anti-Semitic Muslim militant, Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, tracing an unbeaten path that led to who knows where.
The who, what, when, and where have been laid out. Everything except the why. Why did Danny Pearl die? Because he was a Jew? A journalist? An American? Or was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The why is always the hardest question for a journalist to answer, and it's what brought Danny Pearl to Pakistan. "I want to know why they hate us so much," he said. Why he died trying to find out brought me.
My qualification is having been in a similar circumstance a long time ago — August 1970, in Cambodia, to be precise. I was 25 years old then, covering the war for Time and feeling invulnerable, a frequent, sometimes fatal journalist's malady. The short of it is that I drove alone to somewhere I shouldn't have, and wound up in a hole with the barrel of an AK-47 pressed to my forehead. I was presumed dead for several weeks, and the conviction of my fellows back in Phnom Penh — just as it is among many today about Danny Pearl — was that I'd asked for it. The difference is, I came back.
There is a lot else about Danny and the people who picked him up that is dissimilar, but every reporter has got to start somewhere. And the place Danny Pearl began, shortly after 9/11, was with a phone call to a number in Manhattan.
On the line that morning was Mansoor Ijaz , founder and chairman of Crescent Investment Management, L.L.C., and a U.S.born-and-bred Pakistani-American with unusual friends and interests. His business partner is Lieutenant General James Abrahamson, former director of Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program; the vice-chairman of his board, R. James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Bill Clinton. For a time Ijaz was also chums with Clinton and his national-security adviser Samuel Berger. This came in handy in April 1997, when, as a private citizen, Ijaz negotiated Sudan's counterterrorism offer to the U.S., and again in August 2000, when Ijaz had Pakistan and India on the seeming verge of cooling the Kashmir cauldron. The deal broke down, as did the relationship with the White House. But soon enough Ijaz was back, as tight with George W. and Condie as he'd been with Bill and Sandy.
Danny called on a tip from Indian intelligence, which said Ijaz was wired with leading jihadis. Figuring that a prominent Pakistani-American who came recommended by Indian spooks to get to Muslim militants must have been a gold mine for Danny, I did the same nine months later.
Ijaz confirmed my figuring.
"He said he wanted to try to understand the psychology behind the jihadi groups," Ijaz recalls. "He wanted to try to get into the mind of the people running the show. He wanted me to introduce him to people who could open doors for him."
Danny's religion also came up.
I said to him at one point, 'I presume from your name that you are Jewish. Is that correct?' He said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Well, you have to understand that this is going to be a huge stumbling block for you. Because [the militants] are going to pick up on that very quickly, and The Wall Street Journal is not viewed as the voice of the Muslim people."'
Danny, who'd reported from Iran and Sudan without difficulty, did not seem concerned, and Ijaz made introductions to three sources: Shaheen Sehbai, editor of The News, Pakistan's largest English language daily; a jihadi activist he declines to name; and — most fatefully — Khalid Khawaja, a Muslim militant and a onetime agent with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) who counts among his very best friends Osama bin Laden.
In late September 2001, Danny flew to Karachi, a sprawling port city of 15 million that is Pakistan's commercial center. Mariane, who is a freelance journalist and frequently accompanied him on interviews, went, too.
"We didn't choose a profession," said Mariane, a strong-minded Buddhist who has been likened to Yoko Ono. "We didn't choose it for ego purposes but we chose it because we wanted to change the world."
They checked into the Pearl Continental, where reservations had been made for them by Ikram Sehgal, proprietor of Pakistan's largest security company. Danny had called him before departing from Bombay to see if it was safe to bring Mariane, who they'd recently learned was pregnant. Sehgal delivered a sobering lecture about security precautions, and offered to provide them with an armed guard free of charge. Danny accepted.
I empathized. Compared with Karachi, Cambodia seemed a walk in the park.
For a time in the early 1990s, violence in Karachi was so endemic that the army took over for the cops. When the troops pulled out, killings started averaging eight per day—and those were merely the ones involving political and criminal gangs. No one bothered to count the shootings, bombings, garrotings, and throat slittings between ethnic and religious groups, much less the toll racked up in quotidian armed robberies, home invasions, and just-for-the-hell-of-it sniper slayings.
Americans were special targets. In March 1995 two U.S. consular personnel on their way to work were mowed down by automatic weapons in an ambush at a busy intersection. Two years later, in November 1997, four employees of an American oil company were shot dead in a carbon-copy replay a few blocks from the Sheraton.
Karachi was somewhat quieter when the Pearls arrived — at least, a local magazine was no longer publishing a foldout, color-coded guide to where one was likeliest to be bumped off. Americans hadn't been murdered in a while (Shia Muslim physicians were the victims du jour), but the U.S. Consulate was taking no chances. Its staff members were ferried around in armor-plated Chevy Suburbans driven by U.S. Marines.
Journalists acquainting themselves with Pakistan usually come to Karachi last or don't come, period. I'd resolved to be among the latter category, after Benazir Bhutto advised that Karachi was "so dangerous." I changed my mind after several weeks testing calmer Pakistani waters and convincing myself that former prime ministers don't know anything — typical journalist thinking, when a story's good. Danny, however, came here first. He was after Muslim militants, and Karachi is their Rome. Besides, an old friend from the Journal was soon to arrive. Her name was Asra Nomani.
Asra, who'd been at the Journal since 1988, was a Dow Jones original. For starters, she was an Indian-born Muslim from Morgantown, West Virginia, where her father helped found the first mosque. And corporate America, Asra wasn't: in January 2000 she took a leave to write a book about Tantra.
She'd been conducting her research from India. Shortly after 9/11, however, Salon.com appointed her its Central Asia correspondent and she later took a house in Karachi, a fact that almost certainly did not go unnoticed by Pakistan's ISI, which keeps tabs on foreign journalists, particularly those from India, who are presumed, ipso facto. spies.
Initially, the Pearls' time in Karachi was unremarkable. They lunched with News editor Shaheen Sehbai, who found Danny "very keen to do work" but with "no clue how to go about it." and called on Ikram Sehgal, who arranged several appointments to get Danny grounded. "I liked him," says Sehgal. "He was very inquisitive and intense, you know."
It showed. Hardly had Danny cleared customs than he was quoting Sehgal in a Journal assessment of Musharraf's future (bleak, Sehgal judged). Within weeks, Danny had dispensed with his gun-toting chaperon — "this shadow," he said — and was in the capital, Islamabad, 700 miles to the north, for a several-hour session with Khalid Khawaja.
Khawaja was always good for a provocative quote, which made him a journalist favorite. "America is a very vulnerable country," he'd told CBS in July 2001. "Your White House is the most vulnerable target. It's very simple to just get it." After the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, Asra got a zinger, too: "No American is safe now.... This is a lifelong war."
Some dismissed Khawaja as a PR man. But when it came to Muslim militancy, he was the real deal, having acquired his credentials during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, where, as an air force squadron leader, Khawaja was serving with the ISI, which was distributing C.I.A.purchased munitions to mujahideen. The more radically Islamist the fighter, the more weapons he got, including Osama bin Laden, who formed an instant bond with Khawaja. It deepened when Khawaja was forced out of the ISI in 1988 after criticizing military strongman Zia ul-Haq for not doing enough to Islamize Pakistan — equivalent to questioning the piety of the Pope.
But despite his talk of bin Laden's being "a man like an angel," Khawaja was sufficiently broad-minded in his allegiances that he got the Taliban to agree to receive Ijaz and ex-C.I.A. director Woolsey.
Khawaja, in short, was a source to kill for, and Danny charmed him. Describing the reporter to Ijaz as "competent, straightforward," and not given to asking "inappropriate questions," Khawaja agreed to steer Danny to leading jihadis and to be a sounding board during his time in country.
Danny made another valuable acquaintance in Hamid Mir, editor of Islamabad's Urdu-language Daily Ausaf and selfproclaimed "official biographer" of Osama bin Laden. In their last chat, in early November, bin Laden had boasted of possessing chemical and nuclear weapons. But, according to Mir, the real reason for his summons was remarks he'd made on a U.S. TV show, saying that bin Laden couldn't back his beliefs with Islamic teachings. "I watched you on Larry King, " Osama said. "I want to tell you my position."
When I call on Mir he extracts Danny's business card from his wallet with a flourish.
"This is his memory," he says. "I was aware he's a Jew and that he works for The Wall Street Journal ... but I can say that he was a very good friend of mine."
He fondles the card, which is worn from showings. "Some people accused him that he was a spy, because the kind of assignment he was doing and his way of meeting with people and going after the story.... I came on CNN and I said, 'No, he was a journalist ... like me. We journalists take these kinds of risks."'
Mir, a Taliban enthusiast, was wary of Danny until they attended an anti-American street demonstration in November.
Several hundred were on hand, chanting denunciations of the U.S. and fealty to bin Laden, Danny in the midst of them.
"People were burning the flag of the United States of America ... and I was real careful that I should not become a victim of that fire," says Mir. "But he was standing right under the flag. I said, 'Danny, you should be careful!' He said, 'I want to see in their eyes why they hate us.' I said, 'At least there is one American journalist who wants to find out the reasons."'
For all Danny's great contacts, his stories weren't leaping off the Journal's front page. While he was writing about trading in Afghan currency, other correspondents were packing up to cover the war next door. But by late November, seven journalists had been killed there. "It's too dangerous," Danny said at a meal with other reporters before Thanksgiving. "I just got married, my wife is pregnant, I'm just not going to do it."
Quietly, though, Danny was onto something much more compelling than the daily bombing reports: he'd found links between the ISI and a "humanitarian" organization accused of leaking nuclear secrets to bin Laden.
The group — Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (U.T.N.) — was headed by Dr. Bashiruddin Mahmood, former chief of Pakistan's nuclear-power program and a key player in the development of its atomic bomb. Mahmood — who'd been forced out of his job in 1998 after U.S. intelligence learned of his affection for Muslim extremists — acknowledged making trips to Afghanistan as well as meeting Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. But he claimed that all they'd discussed was the building of a flour mill in Afghanistan. As for bin Laden, Mahmood said he knew him only as someone who "was helping in different places, renovating schools, opening orphan houses, and [helping with] rehabilitation of widows."
That's not how the C.I.A. saw it. According to the agency, Mahmood and another nuclear scientist, Chaudry Abdul Majid, met with bin Laden in Kabul a few weeks before 9/11 — and not to talk about whole-wheat bread. U.S. pressure got the scientists detained in late October, and they admitted having provided bin Laden with detailed information about weapons of mass destruction. But, for what was termed "the best interests of the nation," they were released in mid-December.
All this had been reported. What no one had tumbled to, except for Danny and Journal correspondent Steve LeVine, were U.T.N.'s connections to top levels of Pakistan's ISI and its military. General Hamid Gul — a former ISI director with pronounced anti-American, radically Islamist views — identified himself as U.T.N.'s "honorary patron" and said that he had seen Mahmood during his trip to brief bin Laden. Danny and LeVine also discovered that U.T.N. listed as a director an active-duty brigadier general, and ran down a former ISI colonel who claimed that the agency was not only aware of Mahmood's meeting with bin Laden months before his detention but had encouraged his Afghan trips.
"It could be a big scoop — like your scoop," Danny told Mir. But the Journal played the story on page 8 on Christmas Eve and it passed without impact.
A few days later Danny was back in the paper with another exclusive, datelined Bahawalpur, headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammed (one of the most violent jihadi groups, as well as one of the best connected to the ISI). Jaish had been banned by Musharraf, its bank accounts frozen, and its founder, Maulana Masood Azhar, placed under house arrest. However, Danny later reported that the Jaish office in Bahawalpur was still up and running, as was the Jaish account at the local bank.
If Danny hadn't been on the ISI's radarscope before, he was now. But Danny wasn't letting up; he now had his sights set on the "shoe-bomber," Richard C. Reid.
Interest in the British ex-con turned Muslim radical had tailed off since December 22, when he had tried to blow up an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight by touching a match to an explosive in his tennis sneakers. But there remained some dangling ends, none more intriguing than who was giving Reid orders.
A story in the January 6 edition of The Boston Globe got Danny on the case. It reported that U.S. officials believed Reid to be a follower of Sheikh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, a leader of an obscure Muslim militant group named Jamaat ul-Fuqra ("The Impoverished"). Described by the State Department's 1995 report on terrorism as dedicated "to purifying Islam through violence," ul-Fuqra recruited devotees from as far away as the Netherlands and had sent jihadis into battle in Kashmir, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Israel. Since the early 1980s, ul-Fuqra had also operated in the U.S., where, under the name Muslims of America, its largely black membership lived on rural communes in 19 states, where they were linked to a variety of activities, including — according to authorities — money-laundering, arson, murder, and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Gilani — who was said to have had four wives, two of them African-American — was, for a time, based himself in the States, but now he was mostly to be found in a walled compound in Lahore, Pakistan, where a Pakistani official said that one of his visitors was Richard C. Reid.
The Globe quoted a Gilani "spokesman" and "friend" as denying any relationship between the sheikh and Reid, and warning that further such accusations were not advisable. "If you push him ... he has no option but to declare jihad on America," said Khalid Khawaja. "It will blow like a volcano."
Danny had stayed in regular touch with friend Khawaja and, after seeing the Globe piece, asked if he could put him together with Gilani. Out of the question, Khawaja said: Gilani hadn't granted an interview in nearly a decade, and he certainly wasn't going to give one now to an American reporter. "Don't try," he warned. "You will not be able to do it."
Undeterred, Danny asked his "fixer," an Islamabad reporter named Asif Faruqi, for a way in.
Faruqi asked around, and a journalist friend told him about a man named "Arif," who knew another man named "Chaudry Bashir," who could lead them to Gilani. Turned out, Faruqi's friend was mistaken. "Arif"'s real name was Hashim Qadeer, and he was a jihadi wanted by the police. As for "Chaudry Bashir," his real name was Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Like every reporter in Pakistan, I wanted to meet the fabled Sheikh, who'd been described as well educated, charming, arrogant, and a sociopath. But Sheikh wasn't granting interviews just then; he was in solitary confinement in the Karachi Central Jail, a colonial institution that would do well in a remake of Midnight Express. I had to settle for learning about Sheikh, and once I had, it was no mystery why Danny had trusted him. I would have in a heartbeat.
He was born December 23, 1973, in Wanstead, an East London suburb. His parents had immigrated to the U.K. from a village outside Lahore five years before, and Sheikh was the eldest of their three children. His sister would study medicine at Oxford, his brother law at Cambridge. Sheikh's father, Saeed Ahmed Sheikh, was a successful businessman who generated enough income to send Sheikh to the $12,000-a-year Forest School, where one of his classmates was Nasser Hussain currently captain of the British cricket team.
In 1987 Saeed Ahmed Sheikh moved the family to Pakistan, and Sheikh, then 13 and on his way to being a burly-chested six feet two inches, was enrolled in Aitchison College, the subcontinent's Eton.
He was a standout in his studies and popular with his classmates. The only problem was that once a month or so there'd be a scrap between an old boy and a new, with Sheikh in the middle, punching for the underdog.
Teachers admired his spunk and protected him from serious discipline. But one day late in his second year, the bully Sheikh took on happened to be the son of a most influential personage. Sheikh broke the boy's nose, then presented himself to the headmaster. "Sir," he said, "the chap was very disagreeable. I tried to control myself as much as possible and I have given him the thrashing of his life."
This time, there was no saving Sheikh from expulsion. "He was a wonderful soul," a teacher laments. "A gentleman of the highest order."
Shipped back to the Forest School, Sheikh passed his A levels in 1991 and was admitted to the London School of Economics. He read math and statistics; made $1,500 a day peddling securities to his father's customers; and, in 1992, the same year he received a certificate of commendation for leaping to the rescue of a woman who'd fallen onto the tracks of the Underground, was a member of the British arm-wrestling team that competed in the world championships in Geneva. "A nice bloke," his economics tutor, George Paynter, remembered him.
The first of several turning points came in November 1992, when, during the Islamic Society's "Bosnia Week," Sheikh saw Destruction of a Nation, a graphic, 45-minute documentary on Serb atrocities committed against Muslims. "[It] shook my heart," he wrote.
During the next Easter holiday, Sheikh joined a "Caravan of Mercy," taking relief supplies to Bosnia. But in Split, Croatia, he became seriously ill from the cold and was forced to remain behind. While he recuperated, bodies were carted in, one of a 13-year-old Muslim girl who'd been raped and murdered by Serbs. Years later, Sheikh would tremble at the memory.
On his return to London, Sheikh immersed himself in military theory, dropped out of the London School of Economics, and went to Pakistan with an elaborate plan for guerrilla operations in Kashmir, including — novel twist — kidnappings. A four-star general who examined his scheme was not impressed, but the jihadis were. Spotted as a comer, he was dispatched for four months of advanced schooling in the arts of ambush, explosives, surveillance, and disguise.
Again his skills were noticed, and in June 1994 he was invited to join a kidnapping plot in India, where his role would be sweet-talking foreign tourists into captivity. The hostages would then be traded for Maulana Masood Azhar, a Harkut ul-Ansar leader, and others who had been taken prisoner in India.
There were miscues from the start. Sheikh didn't think much of his bosses, and they, in turn, didn't appreciate his kibitzing. They liked even less the six-foot three-inch Israeli tourist Sheikh brought back to their hideout as a proposed first hostage. "You fool," one of them hissed. "You'll get us all killed. Take him back to his hotel at once and come back in the morning."
Posing as a Hindu named "Rohit," Sheikh by and by rounded up three Britishers and an American, and dropped off a ransom note with a "rather nice" receptionist at the BBC. "Tonight she'll be telling the whole world that this big, monstrous, terrorist-looking chap came to her in person," he wrote in his diary. "Tomorrow, I'll ring her up and say, 'Actually, my dear, I'm not like that at all."'
He seemed equally blithe about his captives, challenging them to games of chess (at which Sheikh was expert) and assuring that he would kidnap only people whom he considered intelligent and wanted to spend time with.
At other moments, Sheikh joked about their prospective beheadings and rattled on about Jews' running the British Cabinet and the truths to be had from reading Mein Kampf: He also rhapsodized about the pleasures of martyrdom, saying that holy warriors ejaculated at the moment of death knowing that they had entered heaven.
The bizarre idyll climaxed in late October 1994, when Indian provincial police raided the kidnappers' hideouts. In the ensuing gun battles, two officers and one of the kidnappers were killed, and Sheikh shot m the shoulder.
The ISI paid for a lawyer, but it didn't do any good for Sheikh, who was held without trial for the next five years in a maximum-security prison, where, he said, he had been beaten and urinated on. But it didn't prevent Sheikh from smuggling out a note to a favorite Aitchison teacher: "
I hope this letter finds you soaring the heights of happiness.
Living in the cold, hard world of criminals and the brutal echelons of state power, a world of self-interest and devious calculations ... I often wander down memory lane, seeing with more experienced (hopefully wiser) eyes all those people who gave me love — glowing, unselfish love. Yes, sir, you encouraged me so many times and you stood up for me when I was a hot-headed youngster. I feel indebted to you and more than a little wistful.
Sir, if possible, please do jot a quick note telling me how you and your family have fared over the last few years.... My parents are in London, busy with the old garment business. Naturally, my case came as quite a shock to them, but Allah has given them the strength to cope. They understand that this is the path I've chosen. They have been tremendously supportive.
Sir, if you could put in the occasional prayer for me that would be wonderful. I'll sign off now. Who knows, perhaps I'll pop round to see you soon.
Yours with affectionate respect . . . "
In a PS, Sheikh added, "If there are some spare copies of the last few Aitchisonians [the school magazine], I'd be thrilled to have them."
It didn't look as if Sheikh was going to be "popping round" anywhere but his cell for the foreseeable future. But in late December 1999, Azhar's terrorist outfit — now renamed Harkat ul-Mujahadeen — seized an Indian airliner with 155 passengers and crew aboard; slit the throat of a honeymooning Indian businessman; and demanded the release of Azhar, Sheikh, and another jihadi. After the plane sat six days on the Kandahar tarmac under the watchful eyes of the Taliban, the Indians gave in.
Azhar went to Karachi and, before 10,000 howling supporters, called for the destruction of the U.S. and India. Then, after a few weeks touring under the protection of the ISI, he announced the formation of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terrorist group Danny would find thriving in Bahawalpur.
Sheikh, for his part, stayed at a Kandahar guesthouse for several days, conferring with Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and — reports had it — Osama bin Laden, who was said to refer to him as "my special son." When he crossed the Pakistan frontier in early January 2000, an ISI colonel was waiting to conduct him to a safe house in Islamabad. From there he proceeded to London, where he reunited with family.
Relaxing with friends on his return to Lahore, Sheikh showed off his wound ("This is the benefit of speaking good English," he joked), talked about his forthcoming marriage ("My wife has an M.A.," he bragged about his bride-to-be), and confessed to pangs about killing. Poison was his instrument of choice (he demonstrated how he secreted it in his wallet), though, according to a U.S. offficial, he slit a throat once to make his jihadi bones. As for the moral qualms, Sheikh said he resolved those by recalling images of Kashmir and Bosnia.
He went next to Afghanistan, and reportedly helped devise a secure, encrypted Web-based communications system for al-Qaeda. His future in the network seemed limitless; there was even talk of one day succeeding bin Laden.
But Sheikh kept running afoul of superiors. Azhar was said to have sidelined him from Jaish after getting fed up with his bragging about Indian exploits. Following further spats with two other terrorist groups, Sheikh joined up with Aftab Ansari, an Indian-born gangster.
By August 2001, Sheikh's activities had come to the attention of British intelligence, who asked their Indian counterparts to help apprehend him.
Then came 9/11. Tracing the hijackers' funding, investigators discovered that in the weeks before the Trade Center attack someone using the alias Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad had wired more than $100,000 to hijacking ringleader Mohammed Atta. On October 6, CNN reported that the U.S. had decided that Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad and Sheikh were one and the same. Not much later the U.S. asked Pakistan to extradite him for the 1994 kidnapping.
With recruits picked up from other jihadi groups, Sheikh and Ansari, meanwhile, were mounting their first big operation, the October 1 suicide truck-bomb attack on the Kashmir assembly, which left 36 dead. On December 13 they struck again, with a shooting and grenade assault on the Parliament building in New Delhi. That incident — which India charged was staged at the direction of the ISI — claimed 14 lives and prompted India to mass half a million troops on the Pakistan border. Sheikh was in the midst of planning yet another operation — a driveby shoot-up of the American Center in Calcutta on January 22, in which five guards were killed — when Danny Pearl dropped into his lap.
"We had nothing personal against Daniel," Sheikh would later say. "Because of his hyperactivity, he caught our interest."
Danny had been here, there, and everywhere, an American Jewish reporter who lived in India, asking inconvenient questions. But his quest for a big score finally seemed within reach. Come to Room 411 of the Akbar International Hotel in Rawalpindi on January 11, he was told; "Bashir" would be waiting.
They talked for three hours. "It was a great meeting," said Sheikh, who shaved his beard and donned sunglasses for the occasion. "We ordered cold coffee and club sandwiches and had great chitchat."
But chitchat is all it was. Not wanting to seem too eager, Sheikh stressed that Gilani was a busy man; he'd have to weigh the question carefully. "I never asked Daniel to do anything," Sheikh later told his interrogators. "It was always him insisting." At the end of the meeting, Danny said he'd send along some examples of his work, and "Bashir" promised to keep him updated via E-mail.
Danny and Mariane then departed for Peshawar — Dodge City, except with Kalashnikovs instead of six-guns. But, according to Rahimullah Yusufzai, the local stringer for the BBC and Time, the only thing that bothered Danny was the difficulty in gathering information.
"He said he would be keen to meet anybody from Taliban or al-Qaeda," Yusufzai recalls. "I said, 'They may be here, but [it] is impossible for you to meet them or me to meet them. They are all wanted and they would like to stay quiet. Especially they won't be meeting an American journalist.'
"I told him, 'If you try too hard, it could be risky.' But he was very focused. He was so persistent in meeting everybody who could have helped him in the story. He was after something and he wanted it."
A Journal reporter's need for a replacement computer gave Danny more reason than ever to get it.
The reporter, Moscow correspondent Alan Cullison, had had his smashed in late November, when his car rolled over while crossing the Hindu Kush. On his arrival in Kabul, a shopkeeper offered to sell him a used IBM desktop and a Compaq laptop for $4,000. Too steep, New York said; bargain him down. Cullison did, and paid $1,100 for two machines that — in a billion-to-one shot — turned out to have been recovered from the bombed headquarters of Mohammed Atef, Osama bin Laden's abruptly deceased military strategist.
Cullison couldn't get past the Compaq's encryption scheme, but on the IBM's hard drive he found a treasure trove of al-Qaeda materials — at least 1,750 files, recording four years' worth of terrorist doings.
Fearing lives might be at stake, the Journal turned over the material to the Defense Department and the C.I.A. for review. The spooks did their screening, and the first Journal report about the documents from the IBM machine appeared December 31. But the Compaq laptop was much harder to crack, and it wasn't until January 16 that the Journal was able to publish the results. For Danny, it was worth the wait. On the hard drive was the itinerary of a target-scouting expedition by a terrorist referred to as "brother Abdul Ra'uff." It matched to a T the pre-9/11 travels of Richard C. Reid.
There was more good news the same day, with the arrival of an E-mail from "Bashir," using an address that showed Sheikh's sense of humor: Nobadmashi@yahoo.com — Urdu for "no rascality."
He reported that he'd forwarded Danny's articles to Gilani and apologized for not having contacted him sooner. "I was preoccupied with looking after my wife who has been ill," Sheikh said. "[She] is back from the hospital and the whole experience was a real eye-opener. Poor people who fall ill here and have to go to hospital have a really miserable and harassing time. Please pray for her health."
Having tugged at Danny's heartstrings with a phony story about his wife, Sheikh set the hook deeper three days later with an E-mail saying that Gilani was looking forward to a get-together.
However, he was currently in Karachi and wouldn't be returning for "a number of days." "Bashir" gave Danny a choice: wait for Gilani's return, or send E-mail questions, which he'd relay to Gilani's secretary. "If Karachi is your program," Sheikh said, "you are welcome to meet him there."
Danny chose the Karachi meeting, as Sheikh — who understood reporters — must have known he would. Before catching the Pakistan International Airlines flight south, Danny E-mailed him his plans, along with something that Sheikh didn't know: on January 24, he and Mariane would be leaving for Dubai and from there transiting to Bombay.
Friends had been urging Danny to take a break, and though another tour of Pakistan was planned, it wouldn't be for an indefinite while. If Danny was going to get Gilani, he had to get him now.
There was another story he wanted to try to cram in: a piece on Karachi underworld boss Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian-born Muslim terrorist who enjoyed the patronage and protection of the ISI. In mid-January, while waiting for "Bashir"'s next missive, Danny called Ikram Sehgal for leads.
"I hadn't heard from him in weeks," Sehgal recalls, sipping tea in his cluttered office. "I think Danny got more and more confident. This was the biggest thing that hit him. He was suddenly having access and chasing down an area where he had no expertise." He stirs the heat from his cup. "I mean, Danny just didn't have it.
"He asked if I had any contacts with the local Mafia. I said, 'Danny, the Mafia head here doesn't function the way you think Mafias do. This is not something out of The Godfather. I know the direction you're going in. Don't do this! Forget it! If you want to know something, come over and we'll talk, not on the telephone."'
Sehgal's phone rings, as it has constantly since March 17, when militants attacked a church in Islamabad, killing U.S. Embassy employee Barbara Green and her 17-yearold daughter, Kristen Wormsley. Sehgal is now providing protection for every Christian church in the country gratis.
"I found him a little naive," Sehgal goes on. "I would tell him, 'Danny, stick by the rules. Anybody you want to meet, meet him in a public place. Don't get into cars. Anyone could pick you up.' He would always say, 'Yes, you're right, Ikram, I ought to do that.' But you always had the feeling that what he was saying was perfunctory."
"Bashir" checked in again on Sunday, January 20, saying that Gilani would be available that coming Tuesday or Wednesday. Sheikh said he'd forward the phone number of a Gilani mureed (follower), who would escort him to the meeting.
"It is sad that you are leaving Pakistan so soon," Sheikh wrote. "I hope you have enjoyed your stay."
The next day, Danny and Mariane learned that their baby would be a boy. They decided to call him Adam, a name that resonates with both Muslim and Jew.
Wednesday, January 23, was going to be busy for Danny. Asra was hosting a farewell dinner party for him that night; he wanted to check out a cyber cafe to see if it was where a message was sent to Richard Reid instructing him to board the next Paris-Miami flight; he had an appointment to see Randall Bennett, the U.S. Consulate's regional security officer, at 2:30, and another to see Jamil Yusuf, head of Karachi's Citizens Police Liaison Committee, at 5:45. And then there was Gilani. "Bashir" by now had told him that "Imtiaz Siddiqi" was the mureed who'd lead him to Gilani. But Danny had yet to hear from him. Nor did he know that Siddiqi's real name was Mansur Hasnain and that he'd been one of the Indian Airlines hijackers who'd freed Sheikh in 1999.
Danny phoned his fixer in Islamabad. "Give me a quick reply," he said. "Is it safe to see Gilani?" Asif assured him it was; Gilani was a public figure. Danny set off on his rounds. Mariane, who was to have come along, wasn't feeling well and stayed at Asra's. He had a good session with Bennett at the consulate, but the cyber cafe was a bust; it didn't have the technology to trace who'd sent the E-mail to Reid. On the way to Yusuf's office, Danny called the Dow Jones bureau to ask the resident correspondent, Saaed Azhari, to set up a final appointment for him the next morning. Azhari, who couldn't fathom why Danny chanced taking cabs everywhere, rather than using a hired car and regular driver, like other correspondents, said there was something Danny ought to know: Ghulam Hasnain, the Karachi Time stringer, had gone missing the day before. Guessing was, the ISI had picked him up because of an expose he had written on Dawood Ibrahim for a Pakistani monthly.
Danny seemed unworried, and a few minutes later he was at the Citizens Police Liaison Committee building, talking to Yusuf, a former businessman who'd become a renowned crime-fighter.
On the afternoon I catch up to him, Yusuf — who played a key role in catching Danny's killers — is bemoaning his trouble in getting warrants for cyber searches. "Judges do not understand Yahoo is not a human being," he says, shaking his head. He then describes his last meeting with a reporter of whom he was very fond.
"He asked me about Gilani, and I said, 'I never heard of him. I don't think a lot of people have heard of him in this country.' Then he told me about this Richard Reid thing. I joked with him: I said, 'Danny, do something else. The guy is caught. He is with the F.B.I. Why waste time?'
"[When] he was sitting here, he got two phone calls. He said, 'Yes,' he is coming there at seven o'clock, somewhere close by. I did not know what was happening. He did not tell me who he was going to meet....
"I advised him, 'You cannot go and meet strangers.' It's just like me going into New York and trying to meet the Mafia, then complaining to the world I got abducted. You don't do those things.
"He was a very docile person, quiet, humble. Not a person who would go out and take risks in reporting. That is what surprised me.... [How] he came and sat here for an hour and then went to that stupid appointment of his without telling us."
Yusuf looks out the window down to where the security car he has had to hire to trail him is waiting. "Kidnapping a journalist is the easiest thing you can do," he says. "They are hungry for information.... Anybody could do it."
Danny's caller was the mureed he knew as Siddiqi, saying to meet him at the Village Garden Restaurant, next to the Metropole Hotel, a mile or so away. In the cab on the way over, Danny phoned Mariane, telling her where he was going and to start the party without him. He'd be back around eight.
The hour came and went without any sign of Danny, but initially his absence wasn't cause for concern. Pakistanis are famously sociable — Gilani may have insisted on serving dinner, and the talk may have run on, as interviews with Muslim militants tended to. But midnight passed with no word from Danny, who also wasn't answering his cell phone.
Now truly worried, Asra phoned Danny's boss, foreign editor John Bussey, at the Journal's headquarters in South Brunswick, New Jersey, where it was late afternoon. Bussey told her that he'd alert the State Department.
Asra phoned Khawaja, thinking he would know whether Danny actually had a meeting. But Khawaja said he'd never heard of any meeting with Gilani.
The police arrived shortly thereafter, and Asra phoned Khawaja again, this time with an officer on the line. He asked that Khawaja put them in touch with Gilani as soon as possible. Then Asra read off "Bashir"'s and "Siddiqi"'s cell-phone numbers. Khawaja didn't recognize either of them.
By the time the flight to Dubai left the next afternoon, the story of Danny Pearl's disappearance was moving over the wires. No one was using the word "kidnapping" yet, but that was the suspicion. It was confirmed early Sunday morning, local time, by E-mails to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and two Pakistani news organizations. Attached were four photographs of Danny in captivity, one showing a 9-mm. pistol pointed at his head and a message in English and Urdu announcing the capture of "CIA officer Daniel Pearl who was posing as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal."
The note demanded that the U.S. hand over F-16 aircraft, whose delivery to Pakistan had been frozen by 1990 nuclear sanctions; that Pakistanis detained for questioning by the EB.I. over the 9/11 attacks be given access to lawyers and allowed to see their families; that Pakistani nationals held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be returned to their homeland to stand trial; and that the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, now held in Afghanistan, be returned to Pakistan.
Of Danny, the note said, "Unfortunately, he is at present being kept in very inhuman circumstances quite similar in fact to the way that Pakistanis and nationals of other sovereign countries are being kept in Cuba by the American Army. If the Americans keep our countrymen in better conditions we will better the conditions of Mr. Pearl and the other Americans that we capture."
Sent on the account of firstname.lastname@example.org, the message was signed, "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty."
Police had never heard of the group, but the name sounded a gong at the Islamabad bureau of the BBC, which in late October had received a package from the "National Youth Movement for the Sovereignty of Pakistan." Inside were an unplayable videocassette and a computer printout announcing the capture of an alleged C.I.A. operative, "one Joshua Weinstein, alias Martin Johnson, an American national and a resident of California." Also enclosed was a photograph of a male Caucasian in his 30s. Flanked by two robed and hooded men aiming AK47s at his head, he was holding up a Pakistani newspaper showing the date of his abduction — just as Danny would months later.
U.S. Embassy officials said at the time that no one named Joshua Weinstein or Martin Johnson had either come to Pakistan or been reported missing, and that the letter was a hoax. When local police agencies and other Western embassies said the same, the BBC let it drop. But the release of the virtually identical Pearl materials got the BBC checking again with American diplomats. Was the first "kidnapping" truly a hoax? Why so many similarities between the October episode and Pearl's abduction? The response was a studied silence.
Police, meanwhile, were focusing their suspicions on Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, the terrorist group that had hijacked the airliner to free Sheikh and Azhar. With a number of its members killed by U.S. air strikes, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen had the motive, as well as the M.O., its predecessor group, Harkat ul-Ansar. being thought responsible for the kidnapping and presumed murder of a group of backpackers in India in 1995.
Trouble was, this didn't have the feel of a jihadi operation. Where were the allahu ahkbars in the note? The riffs about Palestine and infidels and Western demons? There wasn't even a mention of "Zionist conspiracy." Instead, the demands read like an A.C.L.U. press release. The English was too good, too. Usage, spelling, and grammar were virtually perfect, and the few errors seemed deliberate, as if the writer was trying to hide his education. Jihadis didn't have to feign lack of schooling; most were illiterate.
One investigator, inspired, typed "foreign," "kidnapper," and "suspect" onto Google.com and clicked search. The first listing that popped up was "Omar Saeed Sheikh."
No one believed it; couldn't be that easy. Within days, the elite Criminal Investigation Division determined the true identity of "Arif" and raided his house — where they found relatives in the midst of a Muslim prayer service for the dead. "Arif" had been killed fighting the Americans in Afghanistan, they claimed. No one believed that either, and a nationwide manhunt got under way.
The Journal, meanwhile, was moving on several fronts. Managing editor Paul Steiger issued a statement that Danny was not now nor ever had been an employee of any agency of the U.S. government, and the C.I.A. broke long-standing policy to say the same. Foreign editor Bussey and correspondent Steve LeVine flew in to shepherd Mariane, whose Buddhist group was chanting a mantra for Danny. A media strategy was devised. Mariane made herself available for interviews, but only to outlets that had Pakistan reach, such as CNN and the BBC. Questions about what story Danny was working on were deflected, lest the truth cause him harm. Finally, a confidential appeal was made to major U.S. media organizations to not disclose that Danny's parents were Israeli. All agreed.
But on January 30, Danny's Jewishness leaked. In a story in The News, Kamran Khan, the paper's chief investigative reporter, wrote that "some Pakistani security officials — not familiar with the worth of solid investigative reporting in the international media — are privately searching for answers as to why a Jewish American reporter was exceeding 'his limits' to investigate [a] Pakistani religious group."
"An India based Jewish reporter serving a largely Jewish media organisation should have known the hazards of exposing himself to radical Islamic groups, particularly those who recently got crushed under American military might," Khan quoted "a senior Pakistani official" as saying.
Having let the religious cat out of the bag, Khan — who doubles as a special correspondent for The Washington Post — revealed Danny's relationship with Asra Nomani, whom he claimed — falsely — Danny had imported from India to be "his full time assistant."
"Officials are also guessing, rather loudly, as to why Pearl decided to bring in an Indian journalist," Khan wrote. "[They are] also intrigued as to why an American newspaper reporter based in [Bombay] would also establish a full time residence in Karachi by renting a residence."
Khan's revelations stunned colleagues. But there was no wondering about the source of his information: he was well known for his contacts at the highest levels of the ISI.
The same morning Khan's story appeared, the kidnappers released a second note, changing Danny's supposed spying affiliation from the C.I.A. to the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.
The language that followed differed radically from the first note: "U cannot fool us and find us. We are inside seas,oceans,hills,grave yards, every where. We give u I more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan. AHah is with us and will protect us. We had given our demands and if u will not then "we" will act and the Amrikans will get teir part what they deserve. Don't think this will be the end, it is the beggining and it is a real war on Amrikans. Amrikans will get the taste of death and destructions what we had got in Afg and Pak.Inshallah This did not sound like Sheikh—and it wasn't. A note later found on his computer read, "We have investigated and found that Daniel Pearl does not work for the CIA. Therefore, we are releasing him unconditionally."
Having lured Danny, Sheikh had ceased calling the shots; Danny's fate was now in the hands of more murderous others. Investigators, however, were still concentrating on Gilani, who turned himself in on January 30, protesting his innocence and ticking off the names of more than a dozen senior and retired officials who would vouch for his services to state security.
After interrogating Khawaja — who backed Gilani's story — police began having second thoughts. Ul-Fuqra had never been involved with violence in Pakistan and indeed had become so inactive of late the State Department had dropped it from the terrorist list. Someone had set Gilani up. But who?
In Karachi, a newly arrived contingent of F.B.I. men were tracing the source of the kidnappers' E-mails, while Yusuf's Citizens Police Liaison Committee was manually sorting the connections among 23,500 telephone calls. The effort paid off, with the identification of Fahad Naseem an employee of a cyber cafe, as the sender of the E-mails and the linking of his phone calls to two other conspirators.
The police moved just after dark, heading off in unmarked vans to grab Fahad. If Pakistani interrogation methods had their usual brutal efficacy, Fahad would quickly lead them to the second kidnapper, who — likewise persuaded — would lead them to the third, who would rapidly decide that giving up the boss was m his best interest. When they got him, they'd have Danny. It all had to be pulled off by morning prayers at the mosque. After that, everyone in town would know.
Stops one, two, and three yielded the desired results. But they were stymied at four. They had the ringleader's name, his phone number, his uncle's Karachi address — before sunup, they even had his uncle, cousin, and aunt in custody. The aunt placed a call to his cell phone, begging him to surrender. Then the lead officer came on the line. "The game's up, Sheikh," he said. The answer was a click.
For days, nothing more happened. Sheikh appeared to have vanished, and there were no further messages from the kidnappers. Fake messages, though, were cascading in, including one which said that Danny's body could be found in a Karachi cemetery. Three-hundred-plus cemeteries were scoured; no body. But a fresh corpse was found in a vacant lot near the airport. Though the face had been rendered unrecognizable by a bullet, to Randall Bennett, who'd been summoned to the morgue, the victim seemed the right age, skin color, and body type. But something was odd about the mouth; ever so slightly, it seemed puffy.
"Roll back his lips," Bennett asked. He let out a breath at the sight of metal. Danny had smiled often during their meeting; Bennett knew he didn't wear braces.
On his way to visit George W. Bush, General Musharraf — who was now blaming India for the abduction — assured the world that all would be well. The case had been cracked: Danny's release was expected any minute.
February 14, Sheikh made a liar out of him. According to the police, he'd been captured in a daring raid in Lahore two days before. The truth was that he'd been turned over by Brigadier Ejaz Shah, home secretary of Punjab and formerly a hard-line officer of the ISI. Sheikh had turned himself over to Shah February 5, and for a week it had been hidden from the police. "Whatever I have done, right or wrong, I have my reasons, and I confess," Sheikh said when he was brought before a magistrate. "As far as I understand, Daniel Pearl is dead."
Police interrogated him for a week, a silent ISI man always present, but got little else. "You are my Pakistani and Muslim brothers," he said. "You can't be as cruel as Hindu policemen were with me in India."
Then, one day, the lead investigator— the officer who'd said, "Your game is up, Sheikh" — visited his cell. They discussed the Koran, and the investigator said, "Show me in the Koran where it says you can lie."
"Give me half an hour," said Sheikh. He said his prayers and made his ablutions, and then he told them nearly everything. He'd learned that Danny had been killed, he said, when he called "Siddiqi" from Lahore, February 5, and ordered, "Shift the patient to the doctor" — a prearranged code for Danny to be released. "Siddiqi" replied, "Dad has expired. We have done the scan and completed the X rays and postmortem" — meaning that Danny had been videotaped and buried. As he understood it, Sheikh said, Danny had been shot while trying to escape. Where the videotape was or what was on it, he said he didn't know.
The sole subject he refused to discuss was the week he had spent with his ISI handlers. "I know people in the government and they know me and my work" was all he'd say. A week later the videotape was recovered in a classic sting. A man (authorities won't reveal his identity) called a Karachi journalist (nor his) and said he had a tape of what had happened to Danny Pearl, and would sell it to the movies for $100,000. The journalist told the U.S. Consulate, which instructed him to tell the man to bring it to the lobby of the Karachi Sheraton at four o'clock, where a movie producer would meet him. An F.B.I. agent played the role to perfection.
They watched the tape on Bennett's living-room VCR — over and over, to make sure of its authenticity. But that was Danny, all right, shirt off, unconscious, on his back. A three-inch wound could be seen in his left side. A hand and part of a forearm came into the frame, holding a large butcher knife. The person wielding it seemed expert.
The rest you probably know by now. Mariane appeared on Larry King and signed a book deal and had her baby. People wept at memorial services for Danny in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, London, and Jerusalem. As of this writing, Sheikh and three co-defendants were still on trial. Everyone in Pakistan expects all of them to be convicted and sentenced to die by hanging.
You no doubt are aware, too, that Danny's dismembered body was found in a shallow grave in the garden of a nursery outside Karachi in mid-May. The terrorists who led police to it said that Danny was picked up by a taxi outside the Village Garden, taken to a nearby location, put into a van there, and driven around Karachi for hours. He was very calm, they said, and did not resist. When at last they came to their final destination, he asked, "Where is the man I wanted to meet?"
His killing moved people who are normally very tough about such things. The lead investigator wept when he told Mariane Danny was dead, and for the first time in years working hazard posts, Randy Bennett let the grotesque get to him. He was coming back to the consulate after endlessly watching the videotape, and a Pakistani was standing in the street covered in the blood of a goat whose throat he'd just slit. Bennett saw a large butcher knife in his hand, then the man shot him an "I hate Americans" look. He slammed on the brakes, got out, and went up to him jaw to jaw. "You got a problem with me?" he said.
I never did answer the "why" of everything. Sheikh said that the reason was to strike a blow at Musharraf, while Musharraf himself said it was because Danny was "overly inquisitive." And more than a few knowledgeable Pakistanis think the ISI was involved. When asked by Vanity Fair whether it shares that view, The Wall Street Journal issued a two-word written answer: "No comment."
One "why" I was able to answer: Why did Danny risk everything for a story? I didn't need to go to Karachi to find out; I could remember. (Robert Sam Anson)
Recent reports state that the decapitated body found in a shallow grave in Karachi, Pakistan is indeed that of murdered American Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Pearl's remains were identified using DNA techniques and have been transferred out of Pakistan.
Arabs in Chicago discover political clout and controversy
June 8, 2005, Arab American Media Services
By Ray Hanania
For many years, Arab Americans in Chicago were relegated to behind-the-scenes fundraising, helping others to gain higher office while sitting on the sidelines waiting their turn.
Several ran for public office as "Arab American candidates" beginning in 1992, including this author, but all of the candidates lost. In one case, Miriam Zayed, a Democratic precinct captain and worker, ran for a prominent southwest suburban school district that included three high schools with the largest concentration of Arab students in the region.
Each year as she re-campaigned for office, her vote totals declined as her Arab heritage more and more became an issue.
This experience in Chicago contrasted from downstate Peoria, Illinois where mainly Lebanese Arabs have been able to win public office from municipal trustees to mayors, legislators and congressman. One of those, Congressman Ray LaHood, aid to former House Speaker Bob Michel, is now considered a strong possibility to challenge Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich next year.
Quietly, though, a group of wealthy Arab American businessmen based in Chicago forged alliances with key officials in state government in the mid-1990s. They locked in contracts and secured some low level jobs as state government changed from Republican to Democratic control.
In recent months, what was a quiet, deliberate assent to the top of Chicago and Illinois clout has exploded in front page newspaper controversies involving favoritism, poor job performance and allegations of wrongdoing.
The names and faces of these Arab American businessmen who have made it to the top include several nationally known players, such as Antoin Rezko and many more local players including the former head of the Chicago Chapter of the ADC, Ali Ata. Part of the challenge is the media bias against Arab Americans. Part of it is the lack of support Arab Americans get from their community. In the end, Arab American businessmen make easy targets for criticism and attacks.
Here's a look at the recent news reports:
For years, Antoin "Tony" Rezko was a strong advocate of grassroots Arab American activism in Chicago, providing funds for election campaigns and community outreach from profits he earned from an inner-city rehab program and from his growing food franchise business.
Born in Aleppo, Syria. Rezko moved to Chicago after graduating from high school. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in civil engineering and construction management.
Rezko was often the largest contributor to Arab American campaigns for political office. Rezko once said that he felt proud to be able to contribute to his community.
Rezko is a member of the St. Jude's Children's Hospital, which was founded by Lebanese American Danny Thomas and has many Arab American members, and also other philanthropic organizations around the country, many that serve Arab American interests.
But several years ago, Rezko's generosity began to appear on campaign disclosure forms for prominent politicians in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois.
Today, those ties have made him the focus of an intense investigation surrounding allegations he profited from political favoritism and is involved in an abuse of set-aside programs that give minorities a preference in winning state, county and city contracts.
Rezko is a co-owner of Rezmar which rehabs buildings in the inner city. With his Jewish American partner, Dan Mahru, Rezmar has transformed abandoned eyesores into livable residences.
As Rezmar grew, Rezko entered the food service business and today holds franchise rights for the Panda Express Asian fast-food chain in five Midwestern states, including Illinois, and in Papa John's, the nation's third largest pizza chain.
Last year, in a dispute with Papa Johns, Rezko renamed his 30 Chicago-based pizza franchises "Pappa Tony's." Today, Rezko reportedly owns more than 125 restaurants around the Midwest and employs more than 3,000 people.
Illinois is divided into three levels of political clout, beginning with Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois. Chicago and Cook County have always been Democratic controlled. The state was Republican controlled under Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan, and now is under Democratic control under Blagojevich.
With the blessing of Chicago Mayor Daley, Rezko's restaurant ventures included several exclusive franchises along the city's beachfronts, on Chicago Park District property.
When Cook County Board President John Stroger ran for election, Rezko made the single largest campaign contribution to his campaign, more than $90,000. In October 2000, Stroger introduced a resolution praising Rezko's commitment to the county.
Stroger, the county's first African American county board president, is enjoying his second term in office. He has named Rezko as honorary chairman of his upcoming re-election campaign.
Rezko also became an adviser to former Gov. George Ryan, who was later indicted on unrelated government corruption charges, and to Blagojevich. Rezko was introduced to state politics and Ryan's predecessor, Jim Edgar, by Talat Othman, a longtime fundraiser for state and city government officials. Edgar is now an associate of the PR firm Rezko hired to represent him.
Rezko raised more than $500,000 for Blagojevich.
Under Blagojevich, Rezko's role changed expanding from fundraising to helping to name individuals to head key state offices and commissions including several Rezko colleagues.
But controversy soon erupted.
In 1997, Panda Express won the right to open a lucrative concession at O'Hare International Airport under the city's Minority Set-Aside program which directs large contracts to companies owned by Women, African Americans or Hispanics.
The city awarded a 10-year contract for O'Hare Airport to Crucial Inc. in 1999, which the city believed was owned by an African American, Jabir Herbert Muhammad, the son of the late Elijah Mohammad.
Crucial Inc.'s annual revenues skyrocketed from under $200,000 in each year before opening at O'Hare, to nearly $6 million in 2002, according to recently published reports. Crucial Inc. has earned nearly $16 million in its first four years at the airport.
Last March, Chicago officials charged that Jabir Herbert Muhammad had acted as a front for the real owner, Rezko, who is of Syrian Arab heritage and does not qualify for minority set-asides.
According to Mayor Daley, Jabir Muhammad founded Crucial Inc. in 1976. It was certified as a minority business in 1989. Rezko had been involved with the company since 1983, serving as a vice president and general manager. In July 1997, the company's minority status lapsed but the forms were not renewed.
Although Muhammad said he ran Crucial Inc., city officials said the company was run by Abdelhamid "Al" Chaib, and longtime friend and Rezko business associate.
Rezko later told the Chicago Tribune that he did not do anything wrong and is surprised by all the attention. Daley said the city's investigation showed that Crucial Inc. should never have received the contract and should be stripped off its minority business certification.
Rezko's clout grows
Crucial Inc. was also hired as a subcontractor to telephone giant SBC Communications, which received an exclusive deal to provide 1,000 pay phones for Cook County Government.
A spokesman for Stroger said County officials are investigating to determine whether or not Crucial Inc. still meets the county's minority business criteria. Six of Rezko's relatives have been placed on the Cook County payroll, according to published reports.
In state government, Rezko's ties resulted in a prize greater that lucrative financial contracts. At least three of his associates were appointed to influential positions overseeing hiring, contracts and policy.
Former business partner Jack Lavin, named to Gov. Blagojevich's cabinet as Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He served as Rezko's former CFO. Lavin is an officer of Crucial Inc.
Winnetka Podiatrist Fortunee Massuda appointed by Blagojevich in 2003 to sit on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. He is a partner in a real estate venture with Rezko.
Kelly King Dibble, a Rezko business associate, was named by Gov. Blagojevich as executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
Abdelhamid "Al" Chaib, vice president of Crucial Inc., is the sole owner of the Subway sandwich shops that have secured the rights to operate at seven of the State's Tollway oases. Chaib also is a director of Rezko Concessions Inc., which is Rezko's portion of the joint venture with Panda Express, state records show.
Already Rezko has become a target in the upcoming election campaign, Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has alleged that Rezko is a part of a "shadow government" pulling the strings in the Blagojevich administration.
Rezko has a long history of supporting Arab American causes. He made a significant donation to help establish the Ibn Rushd Lectureship in Arabic in 2002 at the University of Chicago. Rezko served as a former Executive Director to the Muhammad Ali Foundation. And, he was named "Entrepreneur of the Decade" by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association. The president and founder of ABPA is a generous and successful Chicago Arab American businessman and political adviser, Talat Othman.
Another Arab Americans targeted
Recently, Ali Ata, the former president of the Chicago Chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and a close associate of Othman, also came under scrutiny, this time by Chicago's other newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ata was a major contributor to the candidacy of Blagojevich, who served as a congressman before becoming governor. Ata reportedly donated more than $60,000 to Blagojevich. Ata has been active in supporting Arab American causes and was instrumental in helping to make ADC active in Chicago.
But Ata's ties to the state date back to Edgar and Ryan. He and three partners received more than $3.2 million when they convinced the state to lease a building they owned at 3500 W. Grand Avenue on Chicago's poverty-stricken West Side in the early 1990s.
Yet, the group, which included Faisal Mohammad, a prominent member and executive director of the the nearby al-Aqsa School which is located across from the Mosque Foundation/Bridgeview Mosque, reportedly defaulted on the property but failed to inform the state.
In January 2004, Ata was appointed to a $127,000-a-year job as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, one of Blagojevich's showpiece government streamlining initiatives, even though he had no finance experience and held a degree in engineering. Ata left the post in March 2005 following a state audit of his agency that criticized its performance and practices.
A month later, Ata was offered a three-year contract worth a total of $165,600 to be a consultant to the Illinois Finance Authority on a coal-related energy initiative downstate. He declined the contract, according to the Sun-Times, after the newspaper began inquiring about his employment and the building lease.
State Auditor General William Holland criticized the Finance Authority's accounting and financial reporting practices during Ata's first six months at the helm. Ata told the newspaper he was not surprised because he faced "the herculean task of consolidating five state financial offices into one."
Blagojevich aides praised Ata's performance.
But apparently, Ata may have violated state law by failing to disclose in annual state economic interest forms his interest and ownership in the 29,000 square foot, west Grand Avenue property.
Ata said he was not trying to hide anything. The building defaulted in 2003 and he took the job in January 2004. The form he would have completed in 2004 would have covered any interests in state contracts in the prior year.
A marketing executive with a water treatment chemical company in Naperville called Nalco, Ata is also an investor in several real estate ventures, including redevelopment project in Chicago at Roosevelt and Clark in which has a $50,000 stake.
He redevelopment is being led by Rezko's firm, Rezmar Corp. Other investors in the Roosevelt and Clark development, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, include Michael Rumman, the outgoing director of Blagojevich's Central Management Services Department, and powerful state lobbyist William Filan, the cousin of Blagojevich's budget chief, John Filan.
In published reports, Ata insisted Rezko did not land him the post, claiming he has known Blagojevich longer than Rezko. Ata's political ties date back to the Edgar administration. He served as a co-chair on fundraisers organized on behalf of Edgar, Ryan and Blagojevich.
Ata acknowledged that a Rezko nephew received a paid internship with the Finance Authority last summer while he was at the helm.
None of the individuals named in these controversies have been charged with wrongdoing as the investigation continues.
It is a shame that the community doesn't raly around these great leaders to help them and support them.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Chicago journalist and nationally syndicated columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.)