Who killed Saleem Shahzad?

Published: June 19, 2011
The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore 

The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore [email protected]

President of All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) Hameed Haroon says Saleem Shahzad had told him that he was receiving threats from the ISI. He thus endorsed a similar claim made by Ali Dayan of Human Rights Watch, which the ISI had condemned as false. Another victim of the agency hoods, reporter Umar Cheema, has confirmed in his article in The New York Times (14 June 2011) that the people who thrashed him nearly to death had made it clear that they were not Taliban or al Qaeda.

After what Saleem Shahzad has revealed in his book Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (Pluto Press 2011), other more dreadful possibilities are open for consideration. It could be somebody representing al Qaeda inside the ISI. The book actually tells us how deeply the Pakistan Army is infected. Saleem was a confidant of such a group of officers and could have been killed for revealing too much when he wrote about how Ilyas Kashmiri had attacked PNS Mehran after failing to cow the naval chief into releasing the arrested al Qaeda members found embedded in the navy.

Saleem got the inside track on al Qaeda starting with Captain Khurram Ashiq, who had defected to al Qaeda to die fighting the Nato troops in Helmand in Afghanistan. Khurram’s brother, Major Haroon Ashiq, followed him to North Waziristan along with another officer, Major Abdul Rehman. The Ashiq family was Salafi and the brothers were steeped in Ibn Taymiyya and Syed Qutb, the two presiding saints of al Qaeda. They believed in the Ghazwa-e-Hind hadith and thought the End of the World was near with armies of Imam Mehdi rising from Khurasan (Afghanistan-Pakistan).

Haroon left the army and joined Lashkar-e-Taiba which he told Saleem was an extension of the army. Alienated from the army under Musharraf, he joined Harkatul Jihad alAlami (HUJI) and thus got closer to al Qaeda. As an al Qaeda terrorist, Haroon enjoyed contacts inside the army: “Haroon developed a silencer for the AK-47. This became an essential component of al Qaeda’s special guerrilla operations. He then visited China to procure night-vision glasses. The biggest task was to clear them through the customs in Pakistan. Haroon called on his friend Captain Farooq, who was President Musharraf’s security officer. Farooq went to the airport in the president’s official car and received Haroon at the immigration counter. In the presence of Farooq, nobody dared touch Haroon’s luggage and the night-vision glasses arrived in Pakistan without any hassle [Farooq was a member of the Hizbut Tahrir, a fact discovered by the military intelligence as late as nine months later his posting as Musharraf’s security officer. After being spotted, he was briefly arrested and then retired from the Pakistan Army.]” (p.88)

Haroon is now in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi after failing to kidnap an Ahmadi, Sarwar Khan, in 2009: ‘In custody he admitted to killing Major General Alavi and kidnapping Hindu filmmaker Satish Anand with the help of one Major Basit from Karachi. After he discovered that Anand had no money to give he released him on orders from al Qaeda’s Ilyas Kashmiri — ‘if he embraced Islam’ — which Anand immediately did. Later al Qaeda decided that to refill its empty coffers it will abduct only non-Muslims, in particular, Ahmadis’ (p.95).

Saleem Shahzad’s book highlights the dominance of al Qaeda in Pakistan, including a highly infected Pakistan Army, and gives only a marginal status to its ancillary terrorists. The Punjabi Taliban he subordinates to the Haqqani Network, which in turn is a wing of al Qaeda but is known as a protégé of the Pakistan Army.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Shah
    Jun 19, 2011 - 1:58AM

    Eb b kaho Pak army tu zinda bad…..shame….salute to Saleem Shahzad.Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2011 - 2:18AM

    Thanks for opening our eyes. I was thinking RAW/cIA/Mossad were behind this…Recommend

  • sumeet
    Jun 19, 2011 - 2:37AM

    insightful article.why pak army does not make LET a regular infantary or brigade or something and hafiz saeed army general,colonel whatever role he fits in.there is also alqaida brigade within armed force with some of its sincere loyalist.a classic case of protector becoming predator.Recommend

  • Ashok
    Jun 19, 2011 - 2:48AM

    Scary. My guess is that Musharraf gave a foreign agency authorization to access the whereabouts to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and stockpile in case something goes wrong in Pakistan’s internal control mechanisms (in the worst case scenario that security is breached). Pakistan would of course have to oblige, since AQ Khan was rescued by the CIA twice during his ‘travels’ to procure a functioning nuclear weapon for Pakistan. This is something that has been obscured from Pakistan’s public. An informative article on the subject is written by Mr. B Raman and can be accessed here:


    An alternate link is provided as well:


  • Q
    Jun 19, 2011 - 3:05AM


  • saleem khan
    Jun 19, 2011 - 3:22AM

    There is something very dangerous in the making, God forbid from that day!Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 19, 2011 - 3:59AM

    Is this a Rhetorical question Who killed Saleem Shahzad? Dear Khaled I am proud of you. Just watch out and best of luck. Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2011 - 4:42AM

    Its okay, we are just bloody civilians. Get with the program or meet a bloody end.Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2011 - 6:34AM

    There was a brilliant article in either Time or Newsweek a year ago on Ilyas Kashmiri. Then, much of the Pakistani bunch were unaware of this man but foreigners knew exactly what he was capable of. That was one year back. Now, PNS Mehran will forever remain etched in our memory. And our Army claims that Kashmiri is dead. End of an era?Recommend

  • Mir Agha
    Jun 19, 2011 - 6:45AM

    Coulds and woulds, same conspiratorial mindset on the leftist side.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 19, 2011 - 9:22AM

    Where are all the mullah/military apologists now? No comments at all? Thanks for free judiciary and democracy we can discuss these things in the open. Recommend

  • Babar
    Jun 19, 2011 - 10:04AM

    Is this book available in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Sanjeev Jha
    Jun 19, 2011 - 11:56AM

    I really do miss reading Saleem Shazad investigative journalism and precise information he could bring on ATIMES from the secretive badlands of Pakistan, he was a patroit and all his writings were to bring the truth and let common people know how things were changing for bad for entire South Asia and not just Pakistan.

    I have never met him but tried to understand the changing dynamics of AFPAK through his writings, and the first time i had seen his photo when ATIMES had updated that he has been missing.

    It’s a shame for the society when people in power does not want to listen truth, and to hide even kills the messenger.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 19, 2011 - 12:35PM

    if I am being threatened with dire consequences by person or Institution called A, fearing for my life I inform my friends that A is responsible for any harm that comes to me.
    Who is the suspect ?
    Should a thesis be written to point a finger of suspicion towards A ?Recommend

  • Sohail Ahamd
    Jun 19, 2011 - 1:17PM

    some one said the book is not available in Pakistan any more—Recommend

  • Srinath
    Jun 19, 2011 - 2:34PM

    Gen Kiyani is riding a tiger! If a section of Army is salafized, it is difficult for an ‘americanized’ Army chief to go after the militants. This write up makes it easier to understand the reluctance to undertake operations in N.Waziristan. This article is truly enlightening on the extent of rot that has set in.Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2011 - 3:00PM

    Saleem shahzad – miss his writing. Will the second part of that ill-fated article show up?Recommend

  • SharifL
    Jun 19, 2011 - 4:00PM

    It appears we all know who the culprits were. When Strauss kahn was accused of rape by a maid in NY, it was reported that he had said in advance that he expects accusations in the coming days. May be yes, may be no. The point is that sometimes certain dark forces want ISI to get a blame. The bottom line is that an investigation should be done by courts of law, before we tell the world who did it before knowing the full facts.
    It is just if i said who is responsible for bad weather and blame either the government or God for it.Recommend

  • Samina
    Jun 19, 2011 - 5:53PM

    Khalid Ahmed should know better. Conspiratorial thinking personified. Grossly misread the institutional dynamics of the military, regardless of whether jihadis have penetrated Pakistan Army (whose responsibility is that, anyway). The problem is not individual. The ISI mostly does what its Army commanders want it to do. Recommend

  • dofs
    Jun 19, 2011 - 6:54PM

    Pak Army ZindabadRecommend

  • Choudary Mohemmed Teefa
    Jun 19, 2011 - 7:23PM

    really scary. Generals are only interested in any informtion related to getting plots, houses and cash, country may go to hell with its poor and uneducated people. May Allah protect this country form corrupt generals & their associatesRecommend

  • Freedom of heresy
    Jun 19, 2011 - 8:27PM

    I have got the oppurtunity to read this book and there is absolutely no mention of RAW, MOSSAD or CIA conspiring or blowing people up. Every single page demolishes our delusionary plazas. The beauty of this book is the sublime neutrality which the writer has maintained throughout. What I have concluded is both the terrorists and the ones who boast of ‘breaking their backs’ are equally responsible. This book is a must read. Its ‘limited stock’ is certainly not accidental.

    Syed Saleem Shahzad was a great journalist. Recommend

  • Gul
    Jun 19, 2011 - 10:17PM

    While I must confess the article is thought provoking and probably an eye opener, Khalsa Ahmed couldn’t resist giving the Ahmedi angle to it, which he does every time he puts Pen to paper , Recommend

  • Bambayyyaa
    Jun 19, 2011 - 10:29PM

    No wonder everybody is worried about the nukes of pakistan …. I hope even pakistani awam understands whats happening in pakistani army ….Recommend

  • jibralter
    Jun 20, 2011 - 1:22AM

    Of course, there was no mention of RAW, MOSSAd & CIA in the book under discussion, responsibility of attack on PNS Mehran & Mumbai attack placed on ISI, Alquida & extremist in navy & army. It means all the terrorist attacks on Pakistani public, military &police are doing by country :s own elements? are pakistanis damaging/ destroying their own homeland/? no conspiracies of RAW,MOSSAD & CIA? Saleem shahzad like jounalists are writing such :TRUTH: If such truth is really a truth, then nobody save Pakistan,.But this is NOT truth,.. Indians, americans and journalists of south asia free media association like Khaled ahmad, najam sethi & journalists writing in :FRIDAY TIMES:, THE DAILY TIME, ASIA TIME ON LINE, etc are happy on the situation, why/? IN fact Pakistan has been placed in great danger by its own leaders e.g General Zia & Mush . In 1948 our QUID jinnah had said, :BEWARE OF 5th COLUMNSTS inside you” At this stage we have a lot of 5th columnsts which are sabotaging our soveriegnty and trying cutting our roots deeply,we should search truth and not believe on fantacies which liked by our enemies, no doubt, RAW,MOSSAD & CIA are playing game,purpose is only to snatch or destroy our NUKES, this is the truth, may Allah bless our homeland.Recommend

  • hasan
    Jun 22, 2011 - 12:43PM

    So, our army is the most infected institution, which is effected by al Qaeda. And we already now our corrupt politicians, any thing left in our country which not effected, Oh Judiciary!!! some people think that they are effected by PML-N. And our media is funded my US and Jews to frustrate people. Is there any other institution I forget to mention.

    Why don’t western media create conspiracy theories against there institutions????


  • Ali
    Jun 22, 2011 - 7:57PM

    Stop crying everyone. Seriously. Half you peeps don’t even vote. Stop wasting time writing stuff that doesn’t mean anything and then doing it all over tomorrow to a different article here. Wake up. Please.Recommend

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