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The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl (2007)

Christiane Amanpour , Daniel Pearl , Ramesh Sharma , Ahmed A. Jamal  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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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: February 20, 2007
  • 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: #327,816 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

Product Description

Narrated by CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, this 80 minute film tracks the parallel lives of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and British-born jihadi Omar Sheikh. Both men were passionate, intelligent individuals from privileged backgrounds, and both were sympathetic to the plight of Muslims around the world, though Pearl was Jewish. With the rise of Islamic militancy in the 1990s, however the two men?s paths diverged; in 2002, those paths collided when Sheikh executed cunning con game that ended in Pearl?s headline-making kidnapping and murder in Pakistan ? and the remorseless Sheikh?s arrest under mysterious circumstances.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Common tragedy in uncommon circumstances February 18, 2007
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What Did He Know?" ~ Two Paradigms In Crisis November 7, 2009
The documentary 'The Journalist and the Jihadist - The Murder of Daniel Pearl' is a well produced, thoroughly documented account of the gruesome and tragic death of the American/Jewish journalist, Daniel Pearl as orchestrated by the English born Muslim terrorist Omar Sheikh. This contemporary event that unfortunately has not been a one time aberration, punctuates the ever increasing violence between East and West, more specifically Muslim and non-Muslim. This is in my opinion the most dangerous and crucial issue facing the world today. It's a simple, unavoidable fact that should make each and everyone of us ponder the situation, examine our thoughts and beliefs, and strive to come to a mutually acceptable solution to this escalating conflict.

That is exactly what journalist Daniel Pearl set out to be, an honest and open bridge of communication between two opposite and opposing factions. You have to admire a man who would travel to such a troubled area just after 9/11. I still have trouble understanding how an American and Jew could so boldly go into Pakistan, a known hot spot of terrorist activity and expect to come out unscathed. To be honest I can't fathom his rational, it's certainly something I would never consider. He was truly someone willing to put his life on the line for the truth, in fact the film posits the thought that the reason for his death might well be that he was killed because he uncovered something too important to allow him to share with the outside world. I guess we'll never really know if that was the reason.

While being the antagonist in this unfortunate true story Omar Sheikh was also a man just as passionate, just as committed to a cause as Daniel was.
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