Exclusive: Pearl Family Doubts KSM Confession

The father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl says he doesn't believe al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed is the man who beheaded his son, despite Mohammed's confession to a U.S. military tribunal.

"He wants to take credit for doing it, and he wants to exonerate al Qaeda, blame Pakistan and whatever," said Judea Pearl, Danny's father. "When a person confesses and he has nothing to lose, you have to take it with a spice of doubt."

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Pearl said from what he knows about the investigation, there are still many unanswered questions trailing back to Pakistan.  "We still don't know the whereabouts of the guy who owned the nursery, Memon, where Danny was held," said Pearl. "We don't know the identities and the whereabouts of the three Arabs who came the last day [of Danny's captivity] and performed the murder." 

While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claims to be one of them, Pearl says the facts "don't match his story."

Pearl worries that since KSM has confessed to his son's murder, it will be easy for the U.S. government to slow down or close the investigation into the tragedy.

"Governments are tired.  They have bureaucracy.  They have other pressing issues that are higher priorities so they tend to forget the human injustices," he says. "If one person is murdered, a government tends to forget it."Law enforcement sources insist there is hard forensic evidence that links KSM to the murder of Pearl.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales personally called the Pearl family to inform them of KSM's gruesome confession, Pearl said.

Judea Pearl voiced objections that the world was allowed to read the transcripts of KSM's confession.

"There's no need for the public to read his diatribes about how bad America is and read graphic details of his crimes," he says. "You know what this does? It sends a message to his comrades in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. We don't understand that these people are aroused by cruelty."

Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter  who worked with Daniel Pearl and became a close friend of his family, told ABC News the release of the transcripts has brought up painful memories for his family and friends.

"It's a place that's very dark, and for it to go again and be splashed on the front pages of newspapers is like going back down into a very, very terrible nightmare," she says.

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Danny Pearl was staying with Nomani in Karachi when he was abducted and murdered. She also expressed doubts that KSM murdered Pearl.

"Anyone who saw the tape of Danny's murder could confess to those details," she told ABC News. "From everyone I've talked to in Danny's family there isn't closure. Really at the end of the day there's not convincing evidence that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the killer."

Nomani will be heading up The Pearl Project in the fall, a Georgetown University-sponsored investigative reporting project where a team of journalism students and professors will spend a semester investigating who killed her former colleague.

The project has the blessing of Judea and Mrs. Pearl as well as that of as Danny Pearl's widow Mariane.

Judea Pearl says finding the real killers and bringing them to justice is not only about the family's healing but will serve a greater purpose. "It sends a message to the millions and millions of youth that are currently on the verge of joining the ideology of unruly violence that there will always be people like Asra or Danny; reporters that are probing, courageous, truth-minded and open-minded. They will be after you."

For now, he says, the family is trying to concentrate on how Danny lived and not how he died. "I'm not going back, I'm looking at the future."

The family runs the Daniel Pearl Foundation dedicated to using journalism, music and community dialogue as a way of fostering understanding between young people in the Arab world and the United States.

Pearl says he wants to counter what he says is the extremist propaganda that comes out of some Arab media. In particular, Pearl was outraged at Al Jazeera's use of quotation marks around the term "terror plot" when the Qatar-based network described the acts to which KSM confessed. "They are contributors to the hate that killed my son," he says.

"I see myself as a soldier. History has given me a combination of tragedy and opportunity, and if I don't exploit the opportunity, then all I'm left with is tragedy," says Pearl. "I'm compelled to harness all the energy that this tragedy has evoked for a good cause, and the cause is to eradicate the hate that took Danny's life."

This post has been revised.

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