The official commission of inquiry into the death of the journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad has concluded that it does not know who was responsible for his murder. Shahzad’s courageous investigative journalism made him an enemy of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Many of his findings are contained in his book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, published just days before his death.
Writing in Newsweek Pakistan, Khaled Ahmed writes that “the reaction from the journalist community has been one of intense disappointment”:
One commission member, PFUJ’s Pervaiz Shaukat, told an audience in Islamabad toward the end of the commission’s work that the journalists who could have given damning evidence either absented themselves from the inquiry or submitted statements that refrained from deposing against the ISI, the main accused in the case.
Ahmed comments on the arguments put by the ISI in their deposition to the commission:
The ISI told the commission that Shahzad kept his contact with them to the last, which, they said, proved he did not feel threatened by the agency! Their assertion that Al Qaeda could have killed Shahzad was backed by their taped conversation with another journalist, Hamid Mir, who “condemns Saleem Shahzad [as] being a dubious case [and] laments Americans for their extraordinary interest in this case.” The ISI sought to prove that Al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri and his agents, whom Shahzad’s reports revealed as his main sources of information, could have killed him.
The commission could have ignored this self-exoneration. In his deposition, Ali Dayan Hasan, who represents Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, said Shahzad “had been threatened by the ISI at the Oct. 17 meeting at ISI headquarters in Islamabad with the director-general of the media wing of the ISI, Rear Adm. Adnan Nazir, and another ISI official, Cmdr. Khalid Pervaiz.” Hasan says Shahzad took Admiral Nazir’s parting comments—“I must give you a favor. We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know”—as a threat.
The chapter on another death is thus closed. Shahzad joins a host of journalists who died in Pakistan’s killing fields. Their killers lost without a trace.
Visit Newsweek Pakistan to read the article in full.
Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11
Syed Saleem Shahzad
A unique insight into the post-Osama bin Laden generation of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders from a journalist who interviewed many of them.
“This is a disturbing book. … Shahzad considers the strategies of al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist movements in terms that are not often heard.” – The Times
“Buy Shahzad’s book. It tells us what the Pakistani government, whose corruption and brutality Shahzad died to expose, does not want us to know.” – Charles Glass