Israel Takes Strong Interest in Daniel Pearl Case

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The killers of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl will be brought to justice although maybe not by Israel, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Wednesday.

Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan last month by Islamic extremists, was known to be an American and a Jew, but after reports emerged of his death, it was revealed that his parents were Israeli.

Yehuda and Ruti Pearl moved to the U.S. where Pearl was born in Princeton, N.J., in 1963. His 92-year-old grandmother lives in Tel Aviv.

Sharon spokesman Ra'anan Gissin was quoted in the popular Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot on Wednesday as saying that Israel would find the murderers of Pearl.

The paper also quoted the British-based Foreign Report, which said that Sharon had ordered the killing of those who killed Pearl. The prime minister's office reportedly denied it.

But Gissin said by telephone that he had been misquoted.

"Jews have the right to defend themselves," Gissin said, referring to the last reported words of Pearl.

On a video tape that the U.S. believes to be authentic, Pearl's last words were, "I am a Jew." Then his throat was slit from behind and he was beheaded.

"We have a strong Jewish state that can defend itself," Gissin said, and if necessary can reach out to defend Jews around the world, he added.

"I never said that there was a plan to go after the killers," Gissin said.

Speaking of his own accord and not for the prime minister, Gissin said he believed that the killers "will eventually be brought to justice." He said that when he spoke to the Hebrew paper he had been speaking in principle and not about a specific plan.

"There are sinister forces around the world that want to kill Jews because they are Jews," Gissin said.

Gissin said that the Israeli government knew all along that Pearl was Israeli but had kept it quiet out of "concern for saving his life." In the end it didn't help, he said.

The group that claimed to have held Pearl called itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. It accused the American of spying first for the CIA and then for Israeli intelligence.

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors and combats anti-Semitism around the world, linked Pearl's murder to the war against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

"His murder is a terrible tragedy for his family, his colleagues, the American people and everyone engaged in the war against terrorism," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement posted on the ADL's website.

"The accusations made by his kidnappers that he was a spy for the U.S. and Israel, and their citing the fact that he was Jewish, demonstrate the true face of Muslim extremism," he added.

Nevertheless, the local ADL office in Jerusalem said that the ADL believes he was killed "first and foremost" because he was an American journalist.

Anti-Semitism around the world has soared to levels not seen since World War II since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifadah (uprising) in September 2000

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