When we last looked in on the ongoing saga of Raymond Davis in Pakistan, we saw that Congressman Darrell Issa was there, meeting with the President and the Prime Minister, arguing for release of Davis after he shot dead two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore, with a third Pakistani killed by a US consular vehicle rushing to the scene in the aftermath of the shootings. Now, despite earlier US claims that Davis’ victims were thieves trying to hold him up at gunpoint, a report has surfaced in the Pakistani press that Davis’ victims were actually intelligence operatives for Pakistan’s government and that they had found Davis’ actions to be “detrimental to our national security.” In further developments, a second Congressional delegation met with Prime Minister Gilani, threatening US military funding to Pakistan if Davis is not released quickly and the widow of one of the victims has committed suicide because she believed that Davis would be released without being tried in Pakistan.
The revelation that Davis’ victims were intelligence operatives (h/t Emptywheel via email) comes from Pakistan’s Express Tribune, which is published in cooperation with the International Herald Tribune:
“Yes, they belonged to the security establishment….they found the activities of the American official detrimental to our national security,” disclosed a security official.
The official confirmed that the president, the prime minister and the chief of army staff (COAS) had discussed the issue in a meeting last week. The three thought it was advisable to resist the US pressure on the Raymond Davis issue and believed the detained American national should not be released at this stage, he said.
The article goes on to provide further context for Pakistan’s frustration with the US:
He said the government’s tough stance on the controversy was also its reaction to the attempts by certain elements in Washington to implicate the country’s top spy agency, the ISI, in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The article does go on to suggest, however, that Davis could be released later, especially if the US provides assurance similar incidents would be avoided in the future and that Davis would face prosecution in the US.
Following on the heels of last Tuesday’s Congressional delegation led by Darrell Issa lobbying for Davis’ release, we learn that only three days later, a new delegation met with Prime Minister Gilani on Friday. From the US Embassy in Pakistan:
In a meeting today [February 4] with Prime Minister Gilani, a bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation protested the continued illegal detention of the American diplomat in Lahore. U.S. Representatives Buck McKeon (Republican, California), John Kline (Republican, Minnesota), and Silvestre Reyes (Democrat, Texas) called on the Government of Pakistan to abide by its obligation under international and Pakistani law to recognize his diplomatic immunity, and immediately release him.
Dawn provides details from a source claiming to have been at the meeting:
The House Armed Services Committee delegation took the toughest line in its meeting with Prime Minister Gilani on Friday, where it was reportedly communicated to Pakistani leadership that it might be difficult for the committee to approve military aid and arms supply as long as its official remained in detention.
This same article has very interesting details coming from further investigation into Davis. After stating that at the time of his arrest, Davis was carrying an ID card stating that he worked for the US Consulate in Pershawar, the article suggests that Davis had documentation for working simultaneously at three different locations. It continues:
Some of the other information shared with by the investigators confirmed the previously known information that he had a military background and was posted with US Regional Affairs Office, which is linked by many analysts to CIA.
A US Department of Veteran Affairs card and Department of Defence contractor card were also in possession of Davis, which only adds to the confusion over his identity. The contract documents in Davis` possession revealed that he was on an annual contract with a fee of $200,000.
Having multiple sets of identification documents would seem to provide further evidence for Davis being an intelligence operative, although having them together in one place comes off as very amateurish tradecraft, in my opinion. With hints of both CIA and Blackwater-like postings, it seems unlikely we will ever know for sure what Davis’ official function was at the time of the shooting. Especially with the Defense Department contractor status, I wonder if that would place him in the category of people whom Buck McKeon is arguing should remain in Pakistan in the video above, where he argues against a Dennis Kuchinich resolution for withdrawing DoD personnel from Pakistan.
Further, the article goes on to note that Davis was missing from an official list of embassy employees given to Pakistan’s Foregin Office just two days before the shooting and that his name was included on a revised list submitted just one day after the incident. It is this revised list, submitted after the shooting, on which the US government appears to be basing its claim for diplomatic immunity for Davis. Presumably, the US will argue that Davis was left off the earlier list due to the sensitive nature of his posting, but I haven’t seen that argument made overtly yet.
In additional news on the Davis case, the widow of one of Davis’ victims has committed suicide:
The widow of a Pakistani man who was killed by a US official has killed herself by taking poison.
In her dying statement, Shumaila said she feared the American would be released without trial, police and doctors said.
She issued a deathbed statement on how she felt Davis’ case should be handled:
AP reported that Shumaila also spoke to reporters after arriving at the hospital, saying: “I want blood for blood.”
“The way my husband was shot, his killer should be shot in the same fashion,” she said.
This case is receiving much more attention in Pakistan than it is getting in the US, with Shumaila Faheem’s suicide highlighting just how important it is. Many Pakistanis are suggesting that if Davis is to be released, it should be in a trade for Aafia Siddiqui. Also, with the entry of US charges of ISI complicity in the Mumbai bombings into these discussions, the stakes of the overall situation seem to be rising on a daily basis. The intensity of US actions in trying to obtain Davis’ release would argue for him being very highly placed in the US intelligence community, but his amateurish collection of conflicting identification documents in his possession at the time of the shooting would argue for him being at a much lower and less professional level. As in most real world spy stories, the multiple, conflicting sets of information here and the practice of governments lying when it comes to intelligence activities means that we are unlikely to ever have a complete and truthful description of what has happened coming from either government involved in this case.