Pakistani and Indian newspapers are reporting that Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor in jail in Lahore facing murder charges for the execution-slayings of two young men believed to by Pakistani intelligence operatives, was actually involved in organizing terrorist activities in Pakistan.
As the Express Tribune, an English-language daily that is linked to the International Herald Tribune,reported on Feb. 22:
“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab Police claimed.
“His close ties with the TTP [the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan] were revealed during the investigations,” he added. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency.” Call records of the cellphones recovered from Davis have established his links with 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, sources said.
The article goes on to explain a motive for why the US, which on the one hand has been openly pressing Pakistan to move militarily against Taliban forces in the border regions abutting Afghanistan, would have a contract agent actively encouraging terrorist acts within Pakistan, saying:
Davis was also said to be working on a plan to give credence to the American notion that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe. For this purpose, he was setting up a group of the Taliban which would do his bidding.
According to a report in the Economic Times of India, a review by police investigators of calls placed by Davis on some of the cell phones found on his person and in his rented Honda Civic after the shooting showed calls to 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the banned Pakistani Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an group identified as terrorist organization by both the US and Pakistan, which has been blamed for the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and to the brutal slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Meanwhile, while the US continues to claim that Davis was “defending himself” against two armed robbers, the Associated Press is reporting that its sources in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), are telling them that Davis “knew both men he killed.”
The AP report, which was run in Thursday’s Washington Post, claims the ISI says it “had no idea who Davis was or what he was doing when he was arrested,” that he had contacts in Pakistan’s tribal regions, and that his visa applications contained “bogus references and phone numbers.”
The article quotes a “senior Pakistani intelligence official” as saying the ISI “fears there are hundreds of CIA contractors presently operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistan government or the intelligence agency.”
In an indication that Pakistan is hardening its stance against caving to US pressure to spring Davis from jail, the Express Tribune quotes sources in the Pakistani Foreign Office as saying that the US has been pressing them to forge backdated documents that would allow the US to claim that Davis worked for the US Embassy. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top US officials have been trying to claim Davis was an Embassy employee, and not, as they originally stated, and as he himself told arresting police officers, just a contractor working out of the Lahore Consulate. The difference is critical, since most Embassy employees get blanket immunity for their activities, while consular employees, under the Vienna Conventions, only are given immunity for things done during and in the course of their official duties.
The US had submitted a list of its Embassy workers to the Foreign Office on Jan. 20, a week before the shooting. That list had 48 names on it, and Davis was not one of them. A day after the shooting, the Embassy submitted a “revised” list, claiming rather improbably that it had “overlooked” Davis. At the time of his arrest, Davis was carrying a regular passport, not a diplomatic one, though the Consulate in Lahore rushed over the following day and tried to get police to let them swap his well-worn regular passport for a shiny new diplomatic one (they were rebuffed). Davis was also carrying a Department of Defense contractor ID when he was arrested, further complicating the picture of who his real employer might be.
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run, reader-backed online alternative newspaper.