Asia Times reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad will be sorely missed by The Long War Journal. His insight and reporting on the al Qaeda-Taliban nexus was innovative, and his accounts of the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the support the group received from Pakistan in the early to mid-2000s were prescient. He was willing to put his life at risk to meet Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, and always came back with interesting interviews. When Saleem published, we read. Saleem was also a friend of The Long War Journal; less than two weeks ago we opened discussions with Saleem to contribute, and were confident we would come to an agreement.
Saleem’s torture and brutal murder, at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate according to reports, underscores the depravity toward human life that occurs in Pakistan on a daily basis. The Pakistani people suffer horrific attacks from the Taliban, al Qaeda, and a morass of terror groups, many which are supported and encouraged by Pakistan’s military and ISI. Saleem was the latest victim of the deteriorating state that is Pakistan.
A report on Saleem’s death, from Dawn/AFP, appears below. You can also read a statement from Asia Times and a tribute from AKI. And this TIME Magazine article provides more details on the life and death of Saleem, and the challenges Pakistani journalists face while reporting there.
A Pakistani journalist has been found dead near the capital Islamabad after writing about links between the Pakistani military and al Qaeda, officials said Tuesday.
Syed Saleem Shahzad, 40, worked for an Italian news agency and an online news site registered in Hong Kong. He went missing on Sunday after he left his home in the capital to take part in a television talk show, but never arrived.
Officials said his body was identified by relatives after being found near his car in Sarai Alamgir, 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Islamabad.
“Relatives visited the police station and now they have identified the dead body. They said it is the body of journalist Saleem Shahzad,” police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP by telephone.
He disappeared two days after writing an investigative report in Asia Times Online that al Qaeda carried out last week’s attack on a naval air base to avenge the arrest of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al Qaeda links.
Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Shahzad had complained about being threatened by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
“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,” Hasan told AFP.
“We can form an opinion after the investigation and a court verdict, but… in the past the ISI has been involved in similar incidents.”
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