A year on from the abduction and assassination in Pakistan of Syed Saleem Shahzad, investigative journalist and author of Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, Amnesty International reports on the lack of progress in bringing his killers to justice and the continuing climate of fear amongst journalists in Pakistan:
“Shahzad’s killing last year highlighted the perils faced by journalists in Pakistan,” said Polly Truscott, South Asia director at Amnesty International. “Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous countries for media workers, with at least three journalists killed in the past five months. Last year, at least nine lost their lives.”
Just two days prior to his abduction in Islamabad on May 29, 2011, Shahzad published an article about an attack at a Pakistan Naval base. He alleged Navy personnel sympathetic to al-Qaida had facilitated the attack. On May 31, his body was found several miles outside Islamabad, showing signs of torture.
In October 2010, Shahzad had told colleagues that in a meeting with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s media wing, he felt he had been threatened, because of his reporting on al-Qaida infiltration into Pakistan’s armed forces.
The statement from Amnesty International also comments on the Pakistani governments official enquiry into the murder:
Not a single witness to his abduction came forward, even though the route from Shahzad’s home to a T.V. station where he had been due to conduct an interview passed through several police checkpoints.
“There was a sophisticated, well-organized attempt by Shahzad’s killers to cover their tracks — all the more reason why Pakistan’s intelligence services, especially the ISI, must be thoroughly investigated,” said Truscott.
The inquiry criticized police for failing to adequately question the ISI about Shahzad. Though the panel itself allowed the ISI representatives to submit prepared statements, and subjected them to limited questioning.
Visit Amnesty International to read the statement 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