Daniel Pearl
Daniel PearlIsrael news photo: Danielpearl.org

The al-Qaeda terrorist who beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 has been identified as the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

The news comes following an analysis by a team from The Pearl Project, a group of investigative reporters who conducted an independent three-year probe of the killing. The investigation involved hundreds of interviews with American and Pakistani officials by journalists, academics and students.

The team reached its conclusion after a newly-released FBI forensic test matched the veins on the murderer's hands to those of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the killer in the video, as he beheaded Daniel Pearl. Mohammed is the Number 3 operative in the international al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped on January 23, 2002 in Karachi while doing research on Islamic terrorists. Four weeks later American officials received a video of the grizzly execution, in which Pearl declared just before terrorists slashed his throat, “I am a Jew!”

FBI investigator Michael Dick used the video of Pearl's execution to create still photographs of the hand of his masked murderer. The photos were then shared with CIA colleagues at Guantanamo Bay. These investigators used the “vein matching” forensic technique, which employs mathematical modeling, to see if there was a match with Mohammed's hands.

There was.

Although four men were captured and convicted for the murder, not one was actually in the room when the crime was committed, according to the latest evidence uncovered by the probe. In fact, at least 27 men from three separate terrorist organizations were apparently involved in the operation. Of those, only 14 have been arrested.

The actual murderers of Daniel Pearl have not been brought to trial – nor are they likely to be, the investigation concluded. Federal prosecutors reportedly decided in 2006 not to bring Mohammed, who masterminded the murder and wielded the knife, to trial for the crime.

Mohammed, who was caught in March 2003 and confessed to masterminding the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has also confessed to beheading Daniel Pearl.

Currently held in Guantanamo Bay military prison, his confession of killing Pearl may not hold up in a U.S. court because it may have been obtained using the “water boarding” torture, which is illegal in the United States.

Mohammed also confessed under “water boarding” to having masterminded a terror attack that never took place in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the four men convicted in Pearl's kidnapping and murder remain in jail, with three sentenced to life in prison and one on death row.

Judea and Ruth Pearl, Daniel's parents, have said they are still “trying to digest” the report, but added they believed the authors were “good and honest people who conducted it with love.”