Professor Yehuda Pearl, the father of the murdered Wall Street Journal journalist, Daniel Pearl, has told Ha'aretz of his concern that the family's ties to Israel would provide extremists with justification for the crime.
The publicity regarding our family's links to Israel may harm the investigation and the efforts of the Pakistani police to arrest Daniel's kidnappers and locate his body, the professor said, adding that he did not intend to watch the video of his son's execution that was released by the kidnappers.
U.S. officials informed Pearl of the murder of his kidnapped son on Thursday, after examining the tape and confirming it was genuine. According to official estimates, Daniel Pearl was killed some 10 days after he was kidnapped, on January 23.
Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, Professor Pearl expressed regret that the media in Israel had emphasized the family's ties with the country and Daniel's Israeli citizenship. He said the family had received dozens of requests from the media for interviews, but that he did not believe that this was the right time for speaking to the press.
He said the family might be willing to give interviews once its wounds had healed.
Tova Pearl, the grandmother of Daniel, lives in north Tel Aviv. Since being informed of her grandson's death, the 92-year old has been in "deep mourning," saying she is at a loss for words to describe her sorrow.
She said that she had seen Daniel a year-and-a-half ago when he had visited Israel. She said that Yehuda and Daniel would visit the family in Israel and that she would travel to see them too.
Yehuda Pearl was born in Tel Aviv in 1936. He served in the IDF and then studied electronics at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He subsequently moved to the United States, finding employment at the RCI research center near Princeton, New Jersey, where Daniel was born in 1963.
The family moved to Los Angeles in 1969, after Yehuda was offered a position at UCLA. His specialty is artificial intelligence. He is considered a world-class scientist and has received a number of awards for his work, most recently from the London School of Economics.
He said that even though he left Israel 41 years ago, he had retained close links with family and colleagues. He spent his sabbatical year at the Weizmann Institute of Science, 25 years ago, and Daniel's bar mitzvah was celebrated at the Western Wall.
Although the Interior Ministry considers him a citizen, Daniel did not have an Israeli passport. His father said, nevertheless, that Daniel had not seen himself as an Israeli, but as an American.
Professor Pearl reiterated his hope that Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff would exercise his influence, as promised, over the radical Islamic groups, noting that there would be radicals who would say that Daniel was supposedly a Zionist, thereby justifying his murder.
He added that the family had been very concerned about Daniel's assignment to Pakistan, but that his son had promised to take all the necessary precautions.
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