‘There will be no virgins waiting for Osama’

Date: 08 May 2011


‘There will be no virgins waiting for Osama’ Mariane Pearl, widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by al-Qaeda on Feb 1, 2002, writes exclusively for Bangalore Mirror what the death of Osama bin Laden means to her \\\\\\\\\\\ http://www.bangaloremirror.com/article/1/2011050420110504233606477bf20516a/%E2%80%98There-will-be-no-virgins-waiting--for-Osama%E2%80%99.html?pageno=1 \\\\\\\\\\\ Posted On Wednesday, May 04, 2011 \\\\\\\\\\ A snuff-video grab of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, with a gun held to his head \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ When I first heard of Osama bin Laden, I was sitting in a hotel room in Bihar along with my husband Danny Pearl. We were young, idealistic journalists, and here we were, watching CNN, struggling to reconcile the images of the burning twin towers with our understanding of the world. A lot was about to collapse along with the World Trade Center. \\\\\\\\\\\\\ Danny, who had been covering West Asia prior to his assignment in South Asia, had little doubts about who was responsible for the horrific attacks. As the towers collapsed, he pulled out his computer files and I stared for the first time at the photo of a thin man with a faint, uncanny smile. On the television screen people were screaming and crying, gasping at the horror of what was unfolding. And it felt like the thin man on my husband’s computer was staring at us, his faint smile turning into an expression of quiet madness. The next day, on September 12, 2001, we were on a flight to Islamabad. Because that’s what journalists do, search for truth, and Danny knew enough about bin Laden and his whereabouts to go straight to Pakistan. \\\\\\\\\\\ Danny’s murder was al-Qaeda’s next attack on America. Danny was a senior reporter for the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper that for many symbolises American values. We were still in Karachi in January 2002 when he was kidnapped.\\\\\\\\\ He left for a meeting and never came back. It didn’t take long for me to understand who was behind this. I knew instinctively and I was scared. It was Osama bin Laden, the thin man with the faint smile and twisted morals. I knew why he had done it and what he expected to gain from it. I also knew I had no choice but to fight him back with all my might. \\\\\\\\\\\ I have spent the following decade doing whatever I could as a woman, a mother, a citizen, to defeat bin Laden’s ideology. Promoting empathy and dialogue, resisting fear and nurturing hope regardless of the pain or the anger I felt. I have lived a lot that way. I have reached out to others repeatedly while Osama bin Laden kept appearing on his creepy little video threatening the world yet again. I have striven to live, smile and share, refusing to give up even when I heard of another massacre orchestrated by bin Laden and his followers. \\\\\\\\ I have come to understand in an infinitely intimate manner how much terrorism is really a battle for the soul. With violence as their tool, terrorists aim at destroying our spirit and faith in mankind. I can say today that they might take lives and rip apart families but they can’t get hold of the values and beliefs that shape our dignity as humans. Terrorism has nothing to do with anyone being a Muslim, a Jew, an Indian, an American or Buddhist or any other kind of label. It’s only about power.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ In Osama bin Laden, we had a determined and efficient enemy of the people, a master of hatred and a cold-blooded mass murderer. Today the evil man is dead and there will be no virgins waiting for him in a makeshift heaven, no glory of the martyred, no peace of mind. Only relief for the thousands he has hurt for no better reason than his inability to manage his anger and frustration. \\\\\\\\\ His death is a victory certainly. Maybe it will bring closure to some of us but I have to say, not for me, not quite, as I know we have won a battle but the war is still raging. How can it be over when the poverty, ignorance and despair that breed terrorism remain so prevalent in the world? The battle against terror is a fight against despair. It will be won the day no young man or woman feels that they have nothing to lose or that their life is so worthless that they would rather hurt than get hurt. 000000000