Obama administration officials believe that the ISI ordered the killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad, who had written scathing reports about the infiltration of militants in the military, reported The New York Times. New classified intelligence obtained before the May 29 disappearance of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, 40, from Islamabad, and after the discovery of his mortally wounded body, showed that senior officials of the spy agency directed the attack on him in an effort to silence criticism, two senior administration officials said.
The intelligence, which several administration officials said they believed was reliable and conclusive, showed that the actions of the ISI, as it is known, were “barbaric and unacceptable,” one of the officials said while refusing to divulge further details. The newspaper says the disclosure of the information could further aggravate the badly fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan, adding that the Obama administration officials would deliberate in the coming days how to present the information about Shahzad to the Pakistani government.
According to The NYT, the disclosure was made in answer to questions about the possibility of its existence, and was reluctantly confirmed by the two officials. “There is a lot of high-level concern about the murder; no one is too busy not to look at this,” said one. A third senior American official said there was enough other intelligence and indicators immediately after the assassination for the Americans to conclude that the ISI had ordered him killed. “Every indication is that this was a deliberate, targeted killing that was most likely meant to send shock waves through Pakistan’s journalist community and civil society,” said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the information. A spokesman for the ISI in Islamabad said, “I am not commenting on this,” while George Little, a spokesman for the CIA, declined to comment.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan rejected the report, saying it was part of an international conspiracy to malign the security forces. “There is an international conspiracy to malign the law enforcement agencies and security forces. (These allegations) are part of that conspiracy,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a SAARC seminar.