If Islamists like Omar Sheikh have a goal beyond nurturing hatred, it's to rationalize violence against the Western way of life, even to kill anyone who reflects that way of life. In Daniel Pearl they found a symbol reflecting the freedom and tolerance they could not tolerate. Daniel Pearl was Jewish, and that very fact animated and harnessed Omar's hatred. Daniel Pearl was an American imbued with curiosity, idealism and good will, and his good nature was no match for Islamist malevolence. He was a loving son, husband and soon-to-be father, celebrating life's possibilities. Like Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah, who decreed that "Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them," Omar sought a symbol to target for death.
The army of terrorists seeks redemption through annihilation. Before they cut off his head with a sword, Daniel Pearl defiantly affirmed his identity: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." Omar and his cutthroats made a grisly video of the beheading and released it to inspire and embolden like-minded terrorists, but for everyone else it was an affirmation of the free man who holds family and tradition dear.
Danny's wife Mariane, of Dutch-Cuban descent, gave birth to their son Adam three months after he was murdered. "My resistance to bitterness is my resistance to terrorism," she says. In that spirit, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, established to honor his memory and the values that inspired his life, sponsors Daniel Pearl World Music Days this month with thousands of performances in over 60 countries. Danny played the violin, piano and fiddle and enjoyed classical music, jazz, country and bluegrass. Music soothed and celebrated who he was.
Omar Sheikh's life has been ruled by discord, fed by close connections to the Pakistani secret service (ISI). He was found guilty for Daniel Pearl's murder and sentenced to pay at the end of a rope, but legal appeals have delayed execution 33 times. He lives in a locked cell, and though it's more than he deserves, it's not much of a life. Once more the pen is proved mightier than the sword.