LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Interview With Author Bernard-Henri Levy
Aired September 2, 2003 - 20:20 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: More than a year and a half has passed since the kidnapping and the murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl. was abducted while researching a story on Islamic extremists in Pakistan. And now, in a new book, French author and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy suggests Pearl was killed because he might have known too much.
The book "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" is already a best-seller in France. It hits U.S. bookstores today. Mr. Levy joins me now.
Good of you to join us. Welcome.
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, AUTHOR, "WHO KILLED DANIEL PEARL?": Good to be here, too.
ZAHN: First of all, do you think Daniel Pearl was killed because of who he was or what he knew?
LEVY: I would say both of them.
He was kidnapped, of course, because of who he was. He was kidnapped because he was a Jew. He was kidnapped because he was an American, and this in a country where, to be American, is a sin in Pakistan today. To be American and to be Jewish is a sin. But I think he was killed also because of what he knew, because he was a great reporter, a great journalist who did a wonderful job for his "Journal." And I think he was on to something which he had not to know.
ZAHN: You didn't get any cooperation from "The Wall Street Journal" as you tried to investigate exactly what it was that you think Daniel Pearl was on to. Cobble together for us this evening what you think it was that ultimately cost him his life.
LEVY: The problem is not cooperation of this or that.
I did a long investigation. I devoted one year of my life to follow the footsteps of Daniel Pearl, to try to find what he found, to try to make a few steps more, to try to take the thread again, the thread that he followed himself. And for that, I found a lot of cooperations in Pakistan, out of Pakistan, his fixers, his guides, the people he met, the people he could not meet. That was my job during this long year.
ZAHN: And it is your allegation that the explosive story he was on to was something about the Pakistani intelligence services some way being involved with supplying materiel or information to al Qaeda when it came to a nuclear weapons program?
LEVY: I think he was on to not exactly -- I would not say exactly like this.
I think that Daniel Pearl was discovering that some parts of the Pakistani intelligence service, the Pakistani agencies, some parts of them, some elements of it, were trading some atomic secrets towards al Qaeda. I think that he wrote something like that in a first article with Steve LeVine in "The Wall Street Journal" of the 24th of December.
And he was continuing the investigation of the theme. Daniel Pearl knew that you have in Pakistan some scientists, fathers of the Pakistani bomb, who think that it is their duty to give their secrets, to give the secret of the bomb to the whole umar (ph), to the whole Islamic world and, therefore, to al Qaeda.
ZAHN: In your book, you talk about things that you couldn't possibly know. And I know, in the books, you try to make it clear to the reader when you're imagining things Danny Pearl might have been feeling, particularly when it came to the prospect of his death and what he might have been thinking about in those final moments.
Why did you use that device? And how is his family reacting to your portrayal of what he might have been thinking about?
LEVY: I did what many writers and many American great writers did. Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, the difference being that I tried to put very strong separation between investigation and speculation. I don't think that the reader can be uncertain on that.
ZAHN: So you don't think there's any way your credibility is undermined by using this device?
LEVY: It is a book of investigation. It is a book of inquiry. And sometimes, in two scenes of the book, when there is no facts, when you are in the intimate, inner scene of Daniel Pearl's story, I try some speculation.
The scene of the death is one of this topic. On this point, by the way, I had a few sources. I went to the place where it happened. I had the source precise of the things which happened hour by hour from the Pakistani police. I had a few elements. And from there, I speculated, of course.
ZAHN: Well, again, congratulations on your new book, Bernard- Henri Levy.
ZAHN: The one thing that I guess no one could contradict is the fact that it is a pretty loving portrait, a sympathetic portrait of Daniel Pearl.
LEVY: I tried to do a portrait of this American hero who was Daniel Pearl. ZAHN: Again, thank you for dropping by.
LEVY: Thank you.
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