NEW YORK – The widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (search) is seeking compensation from the Sept. 11 victims' fund, saying her husband, like the victims of the attacks, was a U.S. citizen targeted by Islamic extremists.
Mariane Pearl (search) has filed a formal appeal with the fund after initially being denied, The New York Times reported for a story in Tuesday editions.
"What's horribly, painfully obvious is that if Danny Pearl had come from any other country in the world, he'd be alive today," Mariane Pearl's lawyer, Robert Kelner, told the Times. "And because there is a 9/11 fund which is compensating people for the exact same kind of death, we feel that Danny should be included as a victim in the same class as other victims."
Kenneth Feinberg (search), special master of the fund, said he denied the application about three weeks ago because it did not meet the government's stipulation that victims had to have died in New York, Pennsylvania or Washington as a result of the Sept. 11 attack.
"I'm very sympathetic to the inquiry, but the statute is the statute, and I do not have any discretion," Feinberg told the Times.
However, her application "does raise the fundamental question as to why 9/11 — and not other terrorist attacks or other acts of terror both at home or abroad — is covered," Feinberg said. "I think Congress will address at some point whether the 9/11 compensation fund should be a precedent for future compensation or whether it is a unique response to a unique historical event."
Daniel Pearl was kidnapped Jan. 23, 2002, in the Pakistan city of Karachi (search) while working on a story, and was later killed. Four Islamic militants have been convicted in the kidnapping phase of the case, but seven other suspects — including those who allegedly slit his throat while a video camera rolled — remain at large.
Mariane Pearl told the Times she has struggled to support herself and her son Adam, 2, since her husband's death. Daniel Pearl made a salary of about $100,000 a year at the Journal, she said.
The compensation fund has so far paid out 1,800 awards averaging about $1.4 million each. Feinberg has estimated that $5 billion eventually would be paid from the fund.