Danny tried to escape.
I will learn in the coming months that the kidnappers held him in an isolated shack at a compound on the northern outskirts of Karachi, far from a road, far from people passing by. While unshackled to use the toilet, he tried to escape by shimmying through a vent. When he was caught and brought back, he was chained to the engine of a car, too heavy to drag. Another time he tried to break loose when walking with his captors in the compound. Once he heard a vendor going door-to-door selling vegetables, so he shouted for help; they hushed him up, either threatening him with a gun or covering his mouth with their hands. When he became suspicious that his food might be drugged, he didn't eat for two days. It was only after one of the guards sampled a sandwich brought to Danny that he agreed to eat.
Sometimes when I think about how scared Danny must have been, I become physically ill. But they didn't torture him. They didn't beat him badly. They fed him, though not a lot. His meals were brought to him by Naeem Bukhari, the go-between of the two cells-Omar's cell and the cell that held Danny captive. Naeem has been a powerful force in Karachi. Leader of the local branch of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Naeem was being sought by the police even before Danny's kidnapping. He was wanted for the murders of dozens of Shiite Muslims. Naeem was with Omar at the Karachi airport on January 21, and one of the men who met with Omar under the Baloch Bridge on the following day. The day after that, on January 23, when Danny got into the car at the Hotel Metropole, it was Naeem, astride his motorcycle, who led the way to this merciless compound.
The men guarding Danny poke very limited English. He couldn't communicate with them or they with him. I suppose that's why they didn't notice what he was doing with his fingers when they took Polaroids of him-flashing a victory sign to us with one hand, shooting the bird to them with the other. And they couldn't control the spirit and defiance he showed in his face.
To the end, he fought back. In the video, my friends tell me, Danny says, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." Yes, I'm sure they made him say that, just as they made him denounce American foreign policy and even perhaps include the fact that his father comes from a family of Zionists. The family did, after all, move to Israel in 1924.
But here is how I know Danny was undefeated to the end: He says on the video, "In the town of Benei Beraq in Israel there's a street called Chaim Pearl Street, which is named after my great-grandfather, who was one of the founders of the town."
He did not know until the end that he was going to die. According to authorities, around February 1, a garment manufacturer named Saud Memon, who owned the compound, drove three new men-Arab-speaking, probably Yemenis-to the compound. I later learn what they believe happened in an article Steve writes for the Journal:
"[Naeem] Bukhari directed all the guards but one to go outside and leave the Arabic speaking men alone with Mr. Pearl..The guard who stayed.was an employee of Mr. Memon's named Fazal Karim. Mr. Karim, who knew a little English, later told police that at least one of the visitors communicated with Mr. Pearl in a language the guard didn't understand. Mr. Pearl, who could speak French and Hebrew, responded with an angry outburst, his first conversation of any length since his capture.
"After the interaction calmed, one of the visitors turned on a video camera, and another asked Mr. Pearl questions about his religious background. At least one major Pakistani newspaper had by then reported that Mr. Pearl was Jewish. After the videotaped statement by Mr. Pearl, in which he described where he was raised in the U.S., his family's religious heritage and his sympathy for individuals capture by the U.S. in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Pearl was blindfolded and killed."
We waited in vain for three weeks before we knew of his death; it took them that long to put together a video of the event. To anyone who has seen Osama bin Laden's tapes, particularly the gloating one released not long after 9/11, the style of the videos will seem remarkably similar. Behind the primary speaker-in this case, Danny-plays a montage of images from various conflicts: shots of wounded children, explosive noises. Unlike Osama's video, this one concludes with the very graphic and barbaric slaughter of my husband.
The first thing the kidnappers did was deprive Danny of a voice. No phone, no pen, no computer. Even so, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world not only embraced him as one of their own but understood precisely who he was, what he was doing, and why. His murderers tried to reduce him to a symbol-a Jews, an American. But people knew, in a miraculous way, how charmingly goofy he could be and how great a journalist he was. They were grateful to him. They could tell he was a wonderful friend with a generous spirit. Through what he woke in people's lives and in their hearts, Danny's life shines brighter, while his killers' lives wither in darkness.
Here is another reason I can say he won: Though badly wounded, I was able to stand up again. Danny lost his life, yet he won a bitter but final victory.