Mighty Heart: What You Need to Know about the Political Context of the Killing of Journalist Daniel Pearl

Mighty Heart, Michael Winterbottom's fact-based drama, starring Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman, world premieres at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in the Main Competition series. Paramount Vantage will release the film in the US June 22, 2007. Below you'll find a chronicle of events leading to the murder of Daniel Pearl and its aftermath.

Timeline of Events

Sep 11, 2001

American Airlines flight 11, 77 & United 93 are high jacked.

Oct 7, 2001

In response to the attacks of September 11, the United States focuses on Afghanistan in an effort to capture Osama Bin Ladin, destroy Al Qaeda and remove the Taliban regime.

Dec 22, 2001

British citizen Richard Reid boards American Airlines flight 63. Shortly after takeoff, Reid attempts to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes with a match. Flight attendants and passengers subdue Reid, and the flight is diverted to Boston.

Jan 21, 2002

Daniel Pearl and his six-months-pregnant wife Mariane learn that their unborn child is a boy.

Jan 22, 2002

Pearl and his wife Mariane arrive in Karachi, Pakistan. Pearl is investigating a possible link between the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Mubarik Ali Gilani, a Pakistani cleric with past involvement in militant Islamic groups.

Jan 23, 2002

Daniel Pearl meets with Randall Bennett in the U.S. Consulate to discuss his plans to meet with Sheikh Gilani. Bennett counsels him against meeting with Gilani.

Daniel Pearl meets with Kaleem Yusuf, head of the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee, to discuss his meeting with Sheikh Gilani. Kaleem warns Pearl to stay in an open, busy location, but indicates that as long as he follows this advice, he will be safe.

Daniel Pearl takes a taxi to the Village Restaurant to meet with Gilani. Upon arrival he receives a phone call indicating that he will be taken to Gilani. Pearl dismisses the taxi, and later leaves voluntarily with the men who would become his captors.

Daniel Pearl fails to check in with his editors from Karachi, the first indication that something is wrong.

Jan 24, 2002

Pakistani law enforcement begins to investigate the disappearance of Daniel Pearl

Mariane meets with Khalid Khawaja, an ex-ISI pilot and friend of Osama Bin Laden, to discuss the disappearance of her husband. Khawaja states unequivocally that Sheikh Gilani would not meet with a Western journalist because it is against his beliefs. This is the first indication that Pearls interview arrangement may in fact be a trap.

Jan 25, 2002

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation joins the effort to find Daniel, working with Pakistani law enforcement and the US consulate.

Jan 27, 2002

A militant group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claims responsibility for kidnapping Daniel Pearl. The group claims that Pearl is a CIA spy, and gives the US two days to meet their demands or else Pearl will be killed. This message is sent via e-mail to a number of US news outlets.

Jan 28, 2002

Paul Steiger, Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal, issues a statement saying that Daniel Pearl does not work with the CIA or any part of the US government. The CIA confirms that Pearl has no involvement with the US government.

Jan 29, 2002

Pakistani investigators announce their belief that Pearls exclusive interview with Gilani was in fact a ruse created by his kidnappers to entrap him.

Jan 30, 2002

Gilani voluntarily turns himself in, claiming no involvement in Pearls disappearance.

Daniel Pearl's kidnappers acknowledge that he is not CIA, but accuse him of working for Mossad, the Israeli government intelligence agency. They claim Pearl will be killed in 24 hours if their demands are not met.

Jan 31, 2002

Secretary of State Colin Powell makes it clear that the US will not negotiate with the kidnappers. Meanwhile, the kidnappers extend their deadline yet another day.

Feb 1, 2002

The US Embassy in Islamabad receives a phone call demanding $2 million for the release of Daniel Pearl, later discovered to be a hoax. Later this day, major news outlets CNN and Fox News receive e-mails claiming that Pearl is dead.

Feb 3, 2002

A body is found that is initially suspected to be Pearls. American news outlets quickly announce that Pearl is dead, although it is soon determined that the body is not Pearls.

Feb 4, 2002

Pakistani police find a computer, which they believe was used by Pearls captors. The computers owner, Farhad Naseem, implicates Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in the kidnapping.

Mariane Pearl appears on CNN to talk about her husband and to make an appeal for his life. Meanwhile, Paul Steiger, Managing Editor for the Wall Street Journal, issues another open letter to Pearls kidnappers, stating a desire to negotiate for Pearls safe release.

Feb 5, 2002

The second suspected kidnapper, Salman Saquib, is taken into custody. He is implicated by Naseem, who turns out to be his uncle. Salman implicates a third individual, Sheikh Adil.

Feb 8, 2002

Three men are charged by the Pakistani police for being involved in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl. The men are said to be members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, another militant group that Sheikh Omar is affiliated with.

Feb 12, 2002

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the kidnapping, is taken into custody in Pakistan. He confesses to involvement in the kidnapping, but believes that Pearl is still alive.

Feb 13, 2002

Pakistani president Perez Musharraf also states a belief that Pearl is still alive.

Feb 21, 2002

A video entitled The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl is released. The video shows Pearls dead body, which is subsequently decapitated.

The US State Department confirms that Daniel Pearl is dead.

Mar 21, 2002

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Salman Saquib, Fahad Nasim, and Sheikh Adil appear in a Karachi court to be charged with the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

May 17, 2002

A body is exhumed near Karachi, under the direction of Pakistani police investigating the disappearance of Pearl.

May 18, 2002

The United States confirms that the body recovered by Pakistani police is that of Daniel Pearl.

June 13, 2002

The defense in the kidnapping trial requests that Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, appear in court to testify. The court denies this request.

Jul 15, 2002

Sheikh Omar and his co-defendants are convicted of kidnapping and murdering Pearl. Sheikh is sentenced to death, while the other three men receive life sentences.

Mar 15, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confesses to a U.S. military tribunal that he murdered Daniel Pearl