Shahzad, 40, vanished on May 29 after writing about alleged
links between Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Navy. His body was found on May 31 in
a canal near the town of Mandi Bahauddin, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south
of the capital, Islamabad. His friends said the body showed signs of torture
around the face and neck. He had told colleagues that he had been receiving
threats from intelligence officials in recent months.
Shahzad was reported missing after he failed to show up for
a televised panel discussion in Islamabad. He was scheduled to discuss his
recent article for Asia Times Online in which he reported that Al-Qaeda, having
infiltrated the Pakistani Navy, was behind a 17-hour siege at a naval base in
Karachi on May 22. He said the attack came after military or security officials
refused to release a group of naval officials suspected of being linked to
militant groups. The attack, coming soon after the U.S. killing of Osama bin
Laden on May 2, was deeply embarrassing to the Pakistani military. Earlier in
May, three navy buses carrying recruits were blown up via remote control
devices in Karachi, the large port city where the navy has its headquarters.
Shahzad’s death also came a few days after the release of
his book, Inside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
For months, the journalist had been telling friends that he
had been warned by intelligence agents to stop reporting on sensitive security
matters. In October 2010, Shahzad told Ali Dayan Hasan, a researcher for Human
Rights Watch in Pakistan, that he had been threatened by a top official at a
meeting at the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in
Hasan said Shahzad sent him a note describing the meeting
“in case something happens to me or my family in the future,” Human Rights
Watch reported. Hameed Haroon, president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society
and a former employer of Shahzad, said he had received a similar message at
about the same time.
In July 2011, The New York Times reported that U.S.
officials had reliable intelligence that showed that the ISI was responsible
for Shahzad’s murder. Pakistan’s official commission of inquiry concluded in
January 2012 that the perpetrators were unknown, a finding that was widely
criticized as lacking credibility.