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Pearl's widow seeks compensation from 9/11 fund

Reporter's nationality, employer led to death, she says


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Mariane Pearl is seeking compensation from the September 11 victims' fund.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The wife of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants in 2002, is seeking money from the September 11th victims' fund, even after the fund administrator rejected her claim.

Mariane Pearl has formally appealed her case and hopes Congress will eventually pass a law to aid families of any victim targeted by al Qaeda.

Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau chief, was abducted January 23, 2002, in Karachi, Pakistan, while working on an article about Islamic militants.

For nearly a month, investigators searched for Pearl, but a gruesome videotape of his death arrived on February 21, 2002 at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

Mariane Pearl says her husband was singled out and murdered because he worked for a prominent American company, and al Qaeda used his death as a propaganda tool.

Her initial claim was rejected by Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the fund, because the law creating it says the victims had to have died in the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The amount paid to families who have accepted compensation has averaged about $1.4 million.

The U.S. government has said it believes Pearl, 38, was killed at the hands of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, who was captured last year in Pakistan.

"It became increasingly obvious that the people who have killed Danny, not only were the same people that have perpetrated the attacks on 9/11, but they also have exactly the same objective, which is to hit a high symbolic target," Pearl told CNN on Tuesday.

"Close to the World Trade Center, the Wall Street Journal is probably [the most] worldwide identifiable capitalism, American target," she said.

Pearl's attempt to be compensated for her husband's death has rankled some whose loved ones perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

"[Daniel Pearl] went into dangerous areas, and he had to know it was a risk. My son didn't choose to go over into a terrible nation that has terrorism," said Bill Doyle, whose son, Joseph, worked on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center.

Charles Wolf, whose wife was killed in the attacks, said, "One has to understand the reality of why the fund was set up. It was not an act of compassion. It was an act of legal necessity because they curtailed our right to sue the airlines."

The attorney representing Pearl, Robert Kelner, said neither he nor his client "have any quarrel" with the decision to reject their claim. What they want, he said, is a bill from Congress "to protect targeted American victims of al Qaeda."

Efforts to compensate the families of such victims -- those killed in the USS Cole bombing in 2000 and the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa in the 1998, for example -- have never made headway in Congress.

Kelner, however, said Daniel Pearl's case is the one that most closely mirrors the victims of September 11.

"I think that the single closest situation to 9/11 was the Danny Pearl case," Kelner told CNN. "He was an employee of the Wall Street Journal, he was an American, he was going about his ordinary daily business -- as were the people in the World Trade Center -- when solely because he was a symbol of America he was taken, he was captured, he was killed."

Mariane Pearl, also a journalist, was pregnant when her husband was killed and is now raising their nearly 2-year-old son, Adam. She has since written a book about her husband.

She told CNN that her effort to win compensation is also an attempt to protect her son's future.

"It is getting to the point where [Adam is] going to start going to school. So then, you know, the expenses are going to grow," Pearl said.

"It's very expensive to raise a kid, you know," she added.


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