Warning: The details in this report of Daniel Pearl’s murder are of a very sensitive nature. They underscore the heinous nature of this crime against humanity and the urgent need for justice for Daniel Pearl. The DNA report identifying Danny’s remains is available here. A copy of the autopsy report of Danny’s remains is available here. For complete court documents, please go to PearlPedia at this link.
In Pakistan, an unimaginable conspiracy theory has been circulating: that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is alive.
For that reason, respected criminal attorney Faisal Siddiqi stepped forward on Tuesday in the Supreme Court of Pakistan — representing Danny’s parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl — and declared loud and clear the tragic and brutal truth that the journalist’s courageous family has lived with for 18 years, ever since Danny was kidnapped off the streets of Karachi, Pakistan on Jan. 23, 2002: Danny is dead.
An autopsy was done of remains found in a shallow grave outside Karachi in May 2002. A DNA report was done of the remains, identifying them as belonging to Daniel Pearl, son of Ruth and Judea Pearl. And, in fact, Daniel Pearl is dead.
There was pin drop silence in the courtroom.
“There is one mistake that has been repeated consistently in this case,” said Siddiqi. “The Sindh High Court also wrote wrongly about the the body not being found. The body of Daniel Pearl was indeed found. An autopsy was done. And the DNA was also matched. The body was identified and matched through DNA.”
In that dramatic moment, according to observers in the courtroom, Siddiqi refocused the court on an essential and critical matter: the four men convicted of Danny’s kidnapping and murder in the summer of 2002 are responsible for taking the life of an innocent man from this earth.
For a number of different reasons, the prosecution in the 2002 conviction of the four men did not enter into evidence two elements: the autopsy and the DNA report.
But, indeed, in 2002, the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Institute of Pathology did an analysis of Danny’s remains and concluded in a four-page report: “The donor of the bone specimen (ME02-90) is consistent with being an offspring of Judea and Ruth Pearl. The results are conservatively 26.5 million times more likely given that the male represented by AFDIL Specimen No. 01A is the offspring of Judea and Ruth Pearl rather than the offspring of a random mating in the US population.”
(In FBI international terrorism investigations involving attacks against U.S. citizen victims overseas, the Defense Department’s Armed Forces Medical Examiner often assists investigations by conducting forensic examinations and tests.)
The DNA report represents a clinical reductionism of a life lived fully, but it is vital in establishing one singular truth in this tragedy: that Danny is dead — and there are men on this earth responsible for his murder.
This past April, in the early weeks of the global COVID-19 pandemic, judges in the Sindh High Court of Pakistan claimed that there wasn’t proof of Danny’s murder, and they used that claim as one of the reasons to free the four men convicted in Pearl’s kidnapping, including the British-Pakistani man, Omar Sheikh, who set the trap for Danny’s fateful kidnapping.
Because the conspiracy theory has now gained momentum that Danny may be alive, Siddiqi immediately put to rest that notion, as he stepped forward to deliver his opening remarks to the court. Siddiqi will continue his arguments in court on Wednesday.
Danny’s parents, Ruth and Judea, seek to keep Omar Sheikh and his three codefendants — Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil — in jail.
Warning: The details below that have not been revealed publicly before from the autopsy report are of a very sensitive nature. They underscore something that should not be forgotten: what happened to Danny was a crime against humanity.
An autopsy that Pakistani physicians conducted in 2002 on the remains found in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Karachi reveal the shocking details of Danny’s murder. The reality that cannot be escaped as Danny’s kidnapper and co-conspirators attempt to escape their prison sentences is this:
The autopsy report said Danny’s body was cut into 10 pieces, noting, “The dismembered body found in 10 (Ten) pieces is buried in a sandy land but damp soil of 4x2x5 feet (length x width x depth. The cut/amputated parts found overlapping each other.”
The autopsy recognized the remains as belonging to a “male of about 35-40 years age and white skinned.”
It described the “clothes and ornaments on the body,” revealing the details of the clothes Danny was last seen wearing in the photos released by the kidnappers of him in captivity: “A portion of track portion of track suit that includes left sleeve & front portion with a zip, made up of green, black & dark pink cloth pieces with white internal lining is present on the left upper limb. A piece of green colored nylon rope wrapped around left wrist and two pieces of similar rope found in the mud at burial site. A pair of light brown socks put on feet. Three blue colored shopping bags containing blood tinged watery fluid along with body parts in the mud present.”
The autopsy described the brutal way in which Danny’s body was cut into pieces.
“Head is completely separated from the trunk at the level of in between 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae above the thyroid cartilage and appears to have been cut.”
It continued: “The lower portion of body of 3rd cervical vertebrae is also cut in chip. The vocal box is intact. The trachea is matted with reddish colored fluid. The cut margins of the bone are reddish in color.”
And on and on.
“Left leg cut & separated from the thigh at the level of knee joint and above the patella bone: the patella is attached with the leg and intact.”
“Left foot is cut & separated from left leg by cutting at the level of ankle joint.”
“Right leg cut and separated from the thigh at the level of knee joint below the patella bone that is attached with the thigh portion and intact. The foot is attached to the leg and wears a sock.”
Daniel Pearl was more — much more — than the details of his murder.
These details are shocking to write, read, absorb. But without them the gravity of this crime risks being lost, so many years after Danny’s murder. And, as is said about crimes against humanity, it is vital the the world never forget.
It is in the Supreme Court of Pakistan that justice can now be realized for Danny. It is there that these details from the autopsy and DNA report will be discussed this week to put to rest the conspiracy theories, with the case expected to conclude on Thursday.
It is vital the men responsible for Danny’s murder be held accountable for their crimes against humanity — so that Danny’s family can know peace of mind and the light that was Danny can shine — beyond autopsy and DNA reports — inspiring the world with the goodness, laughter and love that was his life.