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Ruth Pearl, Mother of Slain Journalist and Activist Daniel Pearl, Dies at 85

Her son was the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by Al-Qaeda militants in 2002

Ruth Pearl, the mother of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who later channeled her mourning into activism and cultural outreach, has died. She was 85. 

Pearl died at her Los Angeles home on July 20 after suffering from pulmonary difficulties, per the Los Angeles Times

An electrical engineer and computer analyst, Pearl and her husband Judea Pearl were thrust into the international spotlight in 2002 when Al-Qaeda extremists kidnapped their son Daniel while on assignment in Pakistan and executed him nine days later.

Pearl and her husband were still advocating on their son’s behalf in the Pakistani judicial system at the time of her death. The accused terrorist charged with luring Daniel to his death and three accomplices were ordered to be released in April 2020, prompting Pearl to record a YouTube video the following May pleading with the courts to reverse the decision.

The weight of Daniel’s murder weighed heavily on the couple, who dealt with their pain, in part, by establishing a foundation in his name that offered fellowships to journalists in Muslim countries and hosted lectures, concerts and other events to promote cross-cultural understanding.

“Dehumanizing people is the first step to inviting violence, like Nazism and fascism,” Pearl said in a testimony. “It’s very easy to dehumanize. I’m sure the killers of Danny didn’t have any sense of identifying with the humanity that connects us. For them, Danny was an object. And that can happen only if you really don’t have your own self-respect and your own respect for human beings. So we have to figure ways to educate the next generation differently.”

Pearl is survived by her husband, daughters Michelle and Tamara, daughter-in-law Mariane, sister Carmella and five grandchildren, Leora, Tori, Ari, Evan and Adam.