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The Murder of a Reporter Who Exposed Pakistan’s Secrets

Discussion in 'Pakistan's Internal Security' started by Bl[i]tZ, Sep 15, 2011.

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  1. Bl[i]tZ

    Bl[i]tZ FULL MEMBER

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    In the September 19, 2011, issue of The New Yorker, in “The Journalist and the Spies” (p. 48), Dexter Filkins travels to Pakistan, where he examines the potential links between Islamist militants and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (I.S.I.)—a connection that Pakistan’s generals have denied for years—and investigates the death of the journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was known for exposing these connections. Filkins writes that a senior American official confirms that “reliable intelligence indicates that the order to kill Shahzad came from a senior officer” on the staff of General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, the chief of the Army, and that “the officer made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of Kiyani himself.” (General Athar Abbas, the spokesman for the Pakistani Army, called this allegation “preposterous.”) Shahzad’s body was found in a dam on the Upper Jhelum Canal on May 30th—just weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden—and two days later an I.S.I. official made a statement denying that its agents had played any role in the killing. “Forty-six journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 2001,” Filkins writes, “and the I.S.I. had never before issued such a stark denial.” “Everybody knows who did it,” Muhammad Faizan, a Pakistani journalist, tells Filkins. “But no one can say.” Shahzad was employed by the Web site Asia Times Online, and a hallmark of his reporting “was that it frequently featured interviews with Islamist militants, including Al Qaeda fighters. His work was sometimes inaccurate, but it held up often enough so that other journalists followed his leads. Perhaps because he had cultivated so many militants as sources, he occasionally seemed to glorify the men who were carrying out suicide bombings and assassinations.” Still, on several important occasions, he “wrote what appeared to be undiluted truth about the Pakistani state’s deepest dilemmas.” Filkins met Shahzad nine days before his disappearance, “and he seemed to know that his time was running out.” “Look, I’m in danger,” Shahzad told Filkins. “I’ve got to get out of Pakistan.” He said that the trouble began on March 25th, the day he published a story about bin Laden being on the move. The next morning, he was summoned to the I.S.I.’s headquarters. The agents asked him to write a second story, retracting the first. Shahzad refused. “And then Admiral Nazir”—the lead man in the meeting, who serves as the head of the I.S.I.’s media division—“made a remark so bizarre that Shahzad said he had thought about it every day since,” Filkins writes. “We want the world to believe Osama is dead,” Nazir told Shahzad. They were obviously trying to protect bin Laden, Shahzad told Filkins. Filkins asked Shahzad if he thought the I.S.I. was trying to hide bin Laden. “Shahzad shrugged again and said yes,” Filkins writes. “But he hadn’t been able to prove it.” (The I.S.I. calls this claim an “unsubstantiated accusation of a very serious nature.”) Filkins talks to Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer, who says, “If you start from the premise that the Pakistanis had something to do with hiding bin Laden, then you have to assume that they were trying very hard to put everything back into the tube. . . . And so it would have made sense for them to get rid of Saleem Shahzad.”

    According to Shahzad’s friends and colleagues, he had been warned by the I.S.I. at least three times before he disappeared. Shahzad documented one of these encounters in 2010 in detail. Two days before his disappearance, he had published an article in which he reported on an attack at the Pakistan Naval Air Station-Mehran. “The components of several nuclear warheads were believed to be housed nearby, and the implication was clear: Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was not safe,” Filkins writes. Shahzad reported that the attack had been carried out by a group of fighters led by Ilyas Kashmiri, who was among the most sought-after Al Qaeda militants. According to the article, top officers in the Pakistani Navy believed that the ease with which the militants had attacked the naval base indicated there was a “sizable Al Qaeda infiltration within the Navy’s ranks,” Filkins writes. His journalism “may not have been the sole reason that he was targeted. I.S.I. officials may have become convinced that Shahzad was working for a foreign intelligence agency.” Mere suspicion on this front “could have imperilled him.”

    In September, 2009, Pakistani officials announced that Ilyas Kashmiri had been killed. Weeks later, Shahzad proved that this was not the case: Kashmiri was still alive. This June, four days after Shahzad’s body was found, Ilyas Kashmiri was killed in a drone strike. Given the brief time that passed between Shahzad’s death and Kashmiri’s, Filkins writes, a question inevitably arose: “Did the Americans find Kashmiri on their own? Or did they benefit from information obtained by the I.S.I. during its detention of Shahzad? If so, Shahzad’s death would be not just a terrible example of Pakistani state brutality; it would be a terrible example of the collateral damage sustained in America’s war on terror.” But the drone strikes “sometimes reveal that the Americans and the I.S.I. are working against each other.” One drone strike, in March, killed as many as forty-four people, and, a high-level American official tells Filkins, “It turns out there were some I.S.I. guys who were there with the insurgent leaders. We killed them, too.” Filkins writes, “What were I.S.I. agents doing at a meeting of insurgent commanders? The American official said that he did not know.” The official says, Filkins writes, that these days “most drone attacks in Pakistan are ‘signature strikes,’ which are carried out when a group of people match a certain profile,” and usually “the agency doesn’t know the identities of the people it is firing at.” “Most of the high-value targets have been killed this way,” the official says.

    Filkins visits Fida Muhammad, who describes himself as a civilian employee of the I.S.I., with the title of inspector, and who tells Filkins that for much of the past decade he had escorted militants from their sanctuaries in Pakistan into Afghanistan, where they fought against Americans. “He had been hired for his knowledge of the trails that wind through the mountainous border,” Filkins writes. His most memorable job, he tells Filkins, was in December, 2001, when he was part of a large I.S.I. operation intended to help jihadi fighters escape from Tora Bora, the mountainous region where bin Laden was trapped for several weeks. “We told them, ‘Shave your beards, change your clothes, and follow us,’ ” Muhammad tells Filkins. “We led them to the border with Pakistan and told them they were on their own. And then we went back for more.” Muhammad—who was arrested by Afghan officials and is currently being held in a prison outside of Kabul—says that he was part of a four-man team, and that there were dozens of such teams. Filkins writes, “He estimated that the I.S.I. teams evacuated as many as fifteen hundred militants from Tora Bora and other camps.” “There are people in the I.S.I.,” Muhammad says, “who believe the militants are valuable assets.”


    Read more In this week’s New Yorker : The New Yorker
     
  2. Don Jaguar

    Don Jaguar SENIOR MEMBER

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    So he found the links between ISI and militants on 19 september 2011!!! :enjoy:
     
  3. Oscar

    Oscar ADVISORS

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    One guy.. one story..
    Would be a good read though.. if one can get the new yorker.
     
  4. Bl[i]tZ

    Bl[i]tZ FULL MEMBER

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    Santro, here is the link to the article - Saleem Shahzad’s Murder, Pakistan, and the ISI : The New Yorker

    Its mind blowing.

    ---------- Post added at 09:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:56 PM ----------

    It'll be published on 19th September - IN THIS WEEK’S NEW YORKER.
     
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  5. very

    very BANNED

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    Everybody is trying to blame ob Pakistan for anykinda wrongdoingz.....its terribly sad
     
  6. Bl[i]tZ

    Bl[i]tZ FULL MEMBER

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    The article is quite long but revelations are too sizzling. The author quotes people and doesn't speculate.
     
  7. President Camacho

    President Camacho FULL MEMBER

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    There are a lot of assumptions here.

    And one strange part - He said that the trouble began on March 25th, the day he published a story about bin Laden being on the move. The next morning, he was summoned to the I.S.I.’s headquarters. The agents asked him to write a second story, retracting the first. Shahzad refused.


    Now that bin Laden is dead, all the procured intel, and his wives, say that he had holed himself up in that Abbotabad House... for almost 5 years!

    So when was bin Laden really on the move?

    And if his story was inaccurate (as the article claims he was inaccurate mostly), then why would the ISI feel the need to pick the guy... for posting something so inaccurate that can be taken as one of the million assumptions floating around in the cyberspace?

    I very strongly believe that the ISI had full knowledge of bin Laden's presence, and so I also believe that killing of 'an assuming' journalist would be the last thing the ISI would want to do.

    I would rather believe Najam Sethi's words here, but only to the point that whoever picked Saleem Shahzad merely wanted to warn him with some thrashing and went overboard with it.

    But hey BltZ, thanks for the NewYorker's link. Looks like an interesting article!
     
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  8. Bl[i]tZ

    Bl[i]tZ FULL MEMBER

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    Thanks. Read that complete article, its very informative. Yes, some of the Shahzad's reporting have been questioned but the claim that he was killed is not reporting, it is a perception he sahred. He told people before getting abducted that he was in danger and American's claim that they have evidence - so I wouldn't dismiss it.
     
  9. DV RULES

    DV RULES SENIOR MEMBER

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    Propaganda at its best, US media couldn't be trusted. Interesting for what they remembered this story to publish 19th september?
    Enough this kind of BS.

    Mods please delete both threads with same contents.
     
  10. President Camacho

    President Camacho FULL MEMBER

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    Of course man, nor would I dismiss it without going through it thoroughly.

    It is just that it's a long article, I mean 9,355 words is long for me lol So had to bookmark it for later.

    Will certainly bump this thread once I am done reading it critically with all the time at hand.

    Thanks again for the link!
     
  11. Elmo

    Elmo RETIRED

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    Posted already on the forum.
     
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