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October 03, 2003 - Image 101

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-03

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purists. And in the United States, he
often traveling between Paris and
Sarajevo. He has also worked in diplo- talked with Pearl's parents and wife.
His sources included a spectrum of
matic capacities for the French gov-
those fighting or participating in
ernment, most recently in
international terrorism — from cagey
Afghanistan, where he headed a fact-
government functionaries to fanatic
finding mission after the war against
jihadists, disgruntled police officers
the Taliban.
and indoctrinating imams.
Levy heard about the Pearl murder
The resulting narrative descends
while seated in the office of Afghan
Truman Capote and Norman
President Hamid Karzai. Pearl, at the
Mailer, two of many American writers
time the Journal's South Asia bureau
chief, had been investigating a jihadist Levy cites as influences. It's a mixture
of detective story, investigative jour-
leader named Sheikh Mubark Ali
nalism, memoir, homage and specula-
Shah Gilani, who was the guru of
aborted shoe bomber Richard Reid.
In one of the most controversial
While supposedly going to do an
of the book, Levy imagines
interview with Gilani in Karachi,
what Pearl might have been thinking
Pearl was abducted on Jan. 23, 2002.
and feeling in his last moments of life.
Over the next eight days, the kid-
"There are some moments where
nappers sent e-mail messages with
speculating alone could move a few
ransom demands and photos of
Pearl, one of which depicted a gun to steps forward, where the investigation
stops, when there are no witnesses or
his head. On Feb. 1, the kidnappers
sources," he said.
sent word that Pearl had
"At that point, the
been executed. A grisly
technique of the novelist
propaganda video of the
is like a bridge that can
execution surfaced a few
lead you to the other
weeks later.
bank. Imagination works
To his surprise, Levy
as a sort of relay in this
found that he could buy a
copy of the video outside
He also meant his
the doors of a mosque in
imagination to serve as a
Pakistan. The brazenness
rebuttal to the assassins'
of the carefully edited
video. "If the murderers
film — beginning with
and the cameraman had
Pearl being forced to talk
point of view of
into a camera about being
investigation into
Daniel Pearl's death, then
Jewish, then climaxing with
I thought it important
the reporter being decapitat- what he terms a
that there was another
ed and his severed head held "crime of state,"
point of view," Levy said.
up beneath a list of the cap- Levy traveled
around the world.
He said he also wanted
tor's demands — shocked
to offer another vision to
Levy so much that he com-
Pearl's son, who would
pared it to "a mini World
never get a chance to meet his father.-
Trade Center" in impact.
One of the most interesting parts of
"What is unusual about the Pearl
the book is the in-depth examination
murder is the junction of two
groups," he said, referring to al-Qaeda of the mastermind of the kidnapping,
and the upper ranks of Pakistan's fear- Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the
British-born son of a prosperous,
some Inter-Services Intelligence
London-based Pakistani businessman,
agency, or ISI.
and a former student at the London
"What makes this murder so mys-
School of Economics.
terious, so enigmatic, is that two
Levy traces Saeed's life — from bril-
powerful forces shook hands and
liant private school student and chess
went together in order to crush this
player, with a passion for arm
single man. You have no other
wrestling in pubs, to fundamentalist
example of that."
fanatic who, in addition to the Pearl
During his yearlong investigation
kidnapping, was imprisoned in India
into what he terms a "crime of state,"
during the 1990s for another kidnap-
Levy traveled around the world. He
went from the slums of Karachi to
"There was this mystery of a com-
intelligence offices in New Delhi. In
pletely European Muslim becoming a
Bosnia and England, he investigated
monster. When I saw the extent of this
the mastermind of the Pearl plot. In
enigma, I was fascinated," Levy said.
Dubai, he found that radical Islam
conducts itself more like an avaricious
TRUTH on page 82
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