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The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl (DVD)

Events leading up to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl are thoroughly detailed in The Journalist and the Jihadi. Originally broadcast on October 10, 2006, this superb HBO documentary avoids any kind of sensational exploitation (thankfully, we don't see any footage of Pearl's beheading) and focuses instead on a humane portrait of Pearl as a truth-seeking citizen of the world--a representative of the best that America has to offer, while his kidnapper, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, represents the darkest, most vengeful elements of radical Islam. As narrated by acclaimed CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, the 79-minute film charts a parallel course between Pearl and Sheikh as middle-class citizens whose lives intersected in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. An American of devout Jewish heritage, Pearl was a smart, engaging son of an Israeli computer scientist, playing sports and violin as he was raised in Encino, California, and discovering his passion for journalism while studying at Stanford. Sheikh, raised in England as the son of a successful Pakistani immigrant, was an avid chess player who frequently competed in arm-wrestling tournaments, and gradually turned, in the 1990s, toward hatred of the West, enrolling in terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Like a suspenseful political thriller, The Journalist and the Jihadi follows the course of history from this intimate, two-man perspective, leading to Pearl's fateful capture as he was investigating a money trail that would ultimately have led him through the ranks of Al Qaeda to Osama bin Laden.

Pearl's wife, Mariane, is featured in extensive interview clips along with other colleagues and friends; their story would later be dramatized in the 2007 film A Mighty Heart (starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl), but The Journalist and the Jihadi has the advantage of immediacy and absolute authenticity. Through a steady accumulation of details (how Pearl was trapped through deceptive e-mails; the intensifying manhunt by the FBI; how his murder was confirmed via videotape, etc.), the film offers a balanced assessment of Pearl's murder as a crime against humanity, careful to acknowledge that many decent Muslims responded to the killing with appropriate shock and horror. And while Pearl's death may have been inevitable in radical Islam's cauldron of hatred, we also see how it might have been avoided, if Pearl hadn't been so trusting in his pursuit of journalistic excellence. He was knowledgeable and cautious, but his essential goodness was used against him, and this excellent documentary stands as noble tribute to a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith in humankind. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Christiane Amanpour, Daniel Pearl
  • Directors: Ramesh Sharma, Ahmed A. Jamal
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JJ4DE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,907 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on January 25, 2007
Format: DVD
Catching up on some noteworthy documentaries, I was eager to check in with HBO's "The Journalist and the Jihadi" about the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The horrific details, and subsequent broadcasting (which I refused to watch), of Pearl's beheading are still emblazoned in my memory years after the fact. Taking a dignified and restrained approach to the tragedy, the documentary sets up an interesting narrative device--paralleling Pearl's life with that of Omar Sheikh, the Jihadi responsible for his abduction.

Pearl, a successful and intelligent family man, quickly achieved success and respect within the political arena. Sheikh, educated in England and from a privileged background, distanced himself from his upbringing to take up a very different political crusade. But due to the nature of the resources available, Pearl's life is more fully examined within the film. Interviews with family, friends and coworkers provide a detailed look at a man who sought to make a difference. Sheikh, meanwhile, is more superficially profiled through archival footage and historical documents as he progressed through the ranks of terrorist organizations.

When the two get together in Pakistan, the film becomes a harrowing account of Sheikh's betrayal and Pearl's abduction. The procedures that led to the uncovering of Sheikh's identity and Pearl's fate are faithfully rendered--absolutely riveting and heartbreaking. Ultimately, though, I didn't learn much that I didn't already know--but this is still a powerful and relevant examination of the event. What emerges, and what lingers, from the film is the portrait of Daniel Pearl. This film honors his memory, and his pursuit of truth amounts to an act of heroism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brendan M. Howard on February 18, 2007
Format: DVD
The Journalist and the Jihadi isn't as interesting as it deserves to be. The complicated world of Middle East Islam that reporter Daniel Pearl lived to report and died reporting is warped into a background for Pearl's own horrid kidnapping and murder. Writer Amit Roy reads almost comical meaning into the video scraps of Pearl's and Sheikh's young adulthood. Sheikh is depicted as a Muslim youth getting into arm-wrestling, and a speaker talks about the anger he reflected back at his middle-class London Western opponents. I just saw somebody who liked to compete.

Pearl is presented as an open-minded, fact-tracking violinist-turned-journalist, who loved Islam and the Muslims even if he criticized their governments. After 9/11, he especially shines, when he tries to track the money of al-Qaeda's supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He eventually settles down in Pakistan for a few years with his wife. I felt respect for a man who risked life and limb to secure important stories, but shook my head in surprise that a man with a baby on the way would agree to meet a fundamentalist Muslim leader on the word of a man who turns out to be the executor of his kidnapping.

We are thankfully spared a viewing of the brutal beheading of Pearl that was available for viewing everywhere.

As a primer on how Daniel Pearl wound up dead, this is first-rate. The best part is the chronicling of the moments leading up to, in the midst of, and in the aftermath of the kidnapping. On what his life and death could mean--on how the world should interpret this--it's quiet. But to me that's the spark that would have ignited my interest.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"My name is Daniel Pearl, I am A Jewish American". These are some of the final words of a man whose twisted fate is hard to comprehend. Daniel Pearl was a father, a husband and a successful accomplished man. He strived for balance in his reporting. A Jewish Man, Pearl was an international news correspondent. He explored war, genocide, and cultural conflicts within his reporting.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh is a British born militant of Pakistan. He has countless links to terror organizations including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and The Hamas. He had been linked to American Kidnappings and the attack on America on September 11th. In a strange twist of fate these two men meet and evil prevails.

On January 23rd, 2002, Pearl met Sheikh for what he thought was an interview. He was kidnapped by a Pakistani terrorist group who asked for ransom from the United States. When an agreement was not established pearl was murdered. In Pearl's last moments he described the pride he had for his family and his origins. "My Name is Daniel Pearl, I am A Jewish American from California. My Mother is Jewish, My Father is Jewish, I am Jewish. I visit Israel often there is a town named after my family". These are some of the final brave words of Daniel pearl before his throat was slit and he was decapitated.

This film will undoubtedly make you angry. It portrays the immense inhumanity of a person, the true power of evil in this world. Narrated by Christine Amonpour, HBO does a magnificent job of remembering Pearl and captivating his life and ultimately his death. Pearls death was a result of where he lived and where he originated, nothing more. The Quran states, to kill an innocent man is to kill humanity.
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