Pak­istani who ex­posed al Qaeda cell found slain in car

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ASHISH KU­MAR SEN

A Pak­istani jour­nal­ist who wrote two weeks ago about the sus­pected in­fil­tra­tion of Pak­istan’s navy by al Qaeda ter­ror­ists was found dead May 31, two days af­ter he went miss­ing in Islamabad.

Syed Saleem Shahzad’s body was found al­most 100 miles north of the Pak­istani cap­i­tal. His face had been bat­tered, and he had a gun­shot wound in his stom­ach, ac­cord­ing to sources.

Mr. Shahzad was Pak­istan bu­reau chief of Hong Kong­based Asia Times On­line and au­thor of “In­side al Qaeda and the Tal­iban: Be­yond Bin Laden and 9/11.”

He dis­ap­peared on May 29, two days af­ter he wrote an ar­ti­cle claim­ing that al Qaeda had at­tacked a naval base in Karachi, Pak­istan, on May 22 in re­tal­i­a­tion for the ar­rest of naval of­fi­cials sus­pected of links with the ter­ror­ist group.

He re­ported that al Qaeda as­saulted the base af­ter the col­lapse of its talks with the navy over the re­lease of the ar­rested of­fi­cers.

Ear­lier in May, Mr. Shahzad re­vealed that naval in­tel­li­gence had traced an al Qaeda cell op­er­at­ing in­side bases in Karachi.

“It was clear the mil­i­tants were re­ceiv­ing good in­side in­for­ma­tion, as they al­ways knew where the sus­pects were be­ing de­tained, in­di­cat­ing size­able al Qaeda in­fil­tra­tion within the navy’s ranks,” he wrote.

In the at­tack on Naval Sta­tion Mehran, Pak­istani se­cu­rity forces fought in a 17-hour stand­off with the mil­i­tants, who de­stroyed one of the base’s P-3C Orion anti-sub­ma­rine and mar­itime-sur­veil­lance air­craft and dam­aged an­other. The United States had sup­plied the air­craft, worth $36 mil­lion each, to boost Pak­istan’s ca­pac­ity in the war against ter­ror­ists.

Kam­ran Ma­lik, a for­mer navy com­mando, and his brother, Za­man Ma­lik, were ar­rested on May 27 in a sweep by Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence agents in con­nec­tion with the at­tack.

Mr. Shahzad had re­ported get­ting sev­eral warn­ings from Pak­istani se­cu­rity agen­cies in con­nec­tion with his re­port­ing, ac­cord­ing to two sources who spoke with The Wash­ing­ton Times on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

Last Oc­to­ber, he was sum­moned by se­nior Pak­istani In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI) agency of­fi­cials, who re­port­edly threat­ened him and de­manded he re­veal his sources.

Mr. Shahzad’s col­leagues said he was last seen around 6 p.m. on May 29 when he left his home in Islamabad for an in­ter­view with a Pak­istani tele­vi­sion sta­tion.

Af­ter Mr. Shahzad went miss- ing, his wife con­tacted Ali Dayan Hasan, a Pak­istan-based se­nior re­searcher with Hu­man Rights Watch.

Mr. Hasan said Mr. Shahzad had ear­lier told Hu­man Rights Watch he was afraid the ISI would kill him.

“The other day he vis­ited our of­fice and in­formed us that ISI had threat­ened him. He told us that if any­thing hap­pened to him, we should in­form the me­dia about the sit­u­a­tion and threats,” Mr. Hasan said.

Hu­man Rights Watch said those threats should be taken se­ri­ously in any in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Mr. Shahzad’s death.

Pak­istani po­lice on May 31 dis­cov­ered his car parked next to a canal in the town of Jhelum Sarai Alam­gir. His body and press iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card were found in his auto.

Jean-Fran­cois Jul­liard, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Re­porters With­out Borders, said he was stunned by the news.

“Shahzad was an ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ist who cov­ered very sen­si­tive sub­jects, and it is highly likely that his re­port­ing up­set peo­ple within the gov­ern­ment or armed forces,” he said.

This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

ADNKRO­NOS NEWS AGENCY VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pak­istani jour­nal­ist Syed Saleem Shahzad had told Hu­man Rights Watch that he was afraid he would be killed for his re­port­ing.

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