Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

On the eve of Daniel Pearl’s 19th yahrtzeit, his kidnappers are set to go free

Four men who were involved in the kidnapping and murder of Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl are set to be released by Pakistani authorities. The news comes just days before the nineteenth anniversary of the event.

Their release comes after a court in Pakistan’s Sindh province vacated the men’s murder convictions last year for their part in the death of Pearl. Omar Saeed Sheikh, the British national who had been deemed the mastermind behind the plot, had his death sentence commuted and his co-conspirators had their life sentences reduced to seven years for the kidnapping, which the court ruled they have already served.

Pearl was murdered in Pakistan on February 1, 2002. At the time, he was the South Asia Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal, tracking down a lead on Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber.”

Pearl was taken captive in downtown Karachi, a city in southern Pakistan. He was held captive for nine days before being beheaded on camera. Among his last words were “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.” They were revealed in a video his assailants released titled “The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl.”

His killers and kidnappers were captured shortly after his death.

In December, the Sindh court issued an order calling for their release, citing that their continued detention – nine months after their acquittal – was illegal under Pakistani law.

U.S. officials have strongly opposed the release and, in a December statement, the Justice department stated that, “The United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here. We cannot allow him to evade justice for his role in Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder.”

Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, also spoke out over the Pakistani court’s ruling, and voiced his support for U.S. extradition of Sheikh.

While the men are still set to go free, CNN reported that at the close of business in Pakistan on Thursday, they still remained in custody.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.