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Thread: Seven Questions: Mariane Pearl

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    Seven Questions: Mariane Pearl

    Seven Questions: Mariane Pearl

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/c...?story_id=3843

    Posted May 2007

    The remarkable life and brutal murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is the topic of a gripping new film, A Mighty Heart, based on the book by his widow, Mariane. In this week’s Seven Questions, FP spoke with Mariane Pearl about the murder, her activism, the film, and the war on terror.

    FOREIGN POLICY: Did you have any hesitations about turning your book, A Mighty Heart, into a film?

    Mariane Pearl: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. This wasn’t something I considered seriously before I met Brad Pitt [a producer of the film]. It was a delicate choice to make. Only if I met someone who I felt had the same intentions in making a movie as I had in making the book, would I consider. But [Pitt] really read the book and we were in the same frame of mind. We are both people who want to have children, are aware of what’s going on in the world, and want and feel that we have to do something about it. If [the film serves] that purpose, it works for me.

    FP: You’ve been traveling all over the world this year writing a column for Glamour magazine—to Morocco, Cuba, Uganda, the Arctic—to profile women who are making a difference. What drew you to the project?

    MP: My premise when I started this series was that there is hope in the world. I want to tell my child that there’s hope in the world and I need that statement to be true. And that’s the most fulfilling part: that I was right. Hope is to be found in the individual and what he or she is doing with his or her life. These women are extraordinary people. They’re role models, and we just need to take the time to look at them. Nobody believes in anything anymore; we don’t believe in politicians; we don’t believe in the press. We’re all skeptical. Who can we look up to?

    FP: It was revealed earlier this year that [9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to murdering your husband. In fact, it was first revealed in Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s autobiography.

    MP: I’ve always known that. I’ve never had any doubt about that, and I didn’t find that out that moment. It’s something some people knew for a long time. I wrote a statement [when the confession was revealed], but in terms of the investigation, it’s not something new. Honestly, it was an opportunistic time to reveal it. I didn’t see the point in quoting him. What’s the point? We don’t do that with other terrorists. I felt like it wasn’t right.

    FP: Omar Sheikh, a British-born terrorist, has been sentenced to death for the murder of your husband in Pakistan. How do you think Mohammed’s confession affects that case and his sentence?

    MP: Everything affects that case. He’s been up for appeal some ridiculous number, like 40 times now, and it’s been rejected. Of course, if you reveal something like [Mohammed’s confession], it might endanger a sentence when someone is on appeal. Nothing is done by chance. I think that people who make that kind of decision know this, or you would hope so. But the difficulty is very clear. It would be very difficult to just hang Sheikh, and everyone knows that.

    FP: Is that because of Sheikh’s alleged ties to ISI [the Pakistani intelligence agency]?

    MP: It’s a complicated thing, and I don’t know if I can talk about them publicly right now. Everything is related. Of course, there’s his relationship with the ISI, but there’s also his relationship with other organizations and other countries. It’s complicated and it’s murky.

    FP: Earlier this year, there was a great deal of criticism about hostage swaps for Taliban prisoners. The swaps were criticized by those who said they would encourage future kidnappings. I’m sure it’s difficult, but what do you think of that strategy?

    MP: It’s very difficult for me to answer that because I can’t give an objective answer. The first thing that comes to mind is “that guy is home, and he’s safe.” And I can’t help but be happy for the family because I know what they went through. But it’s a no-win situation, in a way.

    In my situation, we didn’t have that choice. But there are no shortcuts. It has to be case by case. You can’t make a general policy about what to do. You’re not going to stop terrorism by saying no, and you’re not going to stop terrorism by saying yes.

    FP: So, what do you think is the best strategy in fighting terrorism?

    MP: I think, in the past five years, the most beneficial aspect is that people are realizing that it’s impossible to be unaware of the rest of the world. It’s the illusion that we can live our own life and be isolated. Everyone has to get involved because everyone is affected. Otherwise there’s no way out. It’s pretty scary in some ways. If you don’t have as active a voice as those who try to destroy the world, how can you win?

    Mariane Pearl is a journalist and the coauthor of A Mighty Heart (New York: Scribner, 2003). The film based on her book appears in U.S. theaters on June 22.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    If it was simple and clear there would be no conspiracy.

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