Undergrads identify Pearl murder suspects after FBI gave up
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday August 15, 2008

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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported on Thursday that a group of college students may have succeeded where the FBI failed in identifying the killers of journalist Daniel Pearl.

Although four men were convicted of Pearl's murder in Pakistan in 2002, there were thought to be as many as 19 more suspects.

A year after the murder, CBS reported, "Authorities are reluctant to discuss the murder. Suspects disappear or are found dead. Crucial dates are confused. Confessions are offered and then recanted. There is agreement on one point: Nobody who physically carried out the killing has been convicted. None of the four men sentenced is even believed to have ever been at the shed where Pearl was held. Three of the convicted men never met Pearl at all."

But now, says Maddow, "A group of undergrads at Georgetown University, led by a professor who was a colleague of Pearl's at the Wall Street Journal, have themselves figured out the real identities of 15 of those 19 at-large suspects. The professor, Asra Nomani, says, 'The FBI says this is an open investigation, but in talking to officials it's clear there's no work being done on the ground.'"

"This is what you call a war on terror?" asked Maddow.

According to the Georgetown website, Nomani and Associate Dean Barbara Feinman Todd "assembled a team of 32 graduate and undergraduate students over the course of two semesters to pursue the unanswered questions surrounding the slain journalist's kidnapping and murder. They are continuing the project through the fall semester 2008, and they plan to publish the results of the investigation in spring 2009."

Nomani, who was a close friend of Pearl's, recently told an interviewer, "We were both children of immigrants. His parents moved here from Israel; mine came from India. He was Jewish, and I'm Muslim, so our stories are different, but still, he helped me find my identity. He helped me understand that I could be an American and a Muslim. When I told him I'd never been to a prom because I was a good Muslim girl, he threw me a prom and invited all our friends."

The interviewer also found that "Nomani has an unusual résumé: A former travel reporter for the Journal, she has also written a book about tantric sex, in addition to a memoir about her pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's most sacred city, as an unmarried Muslim mom. The New York Times has compared her to Rosa Parks for her gutsy brand of feminism. For inspiration, she carries around Nancy Drew's Guide to Life in her backpack."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast August 14, 2008.

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