Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist who has been missing since Sunday, was found dead on Tuesday, his family has confirmed. He wrote about security and terrorism issues for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online and the Italian news agency Adnkronos International, the Washington Post said.
Shahzad wrote an article last week about the alleged infiltration of al Qaeda into Pakistan's navy, claiming that the 15-hour assault by militants on a naval base in Karachi on May 23 was a revenge attack for the arrest of naval officials because of their suspected links with al Qaeda, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ten people were killed in the attack, and the Pakistani military has been extremely embarrassed by the incident, the New York Times reported. On Monday, a former navy commando and his brother were detained for their alleged role in helping plan the raid, according to BBC News.
Shahzad disappeared on Sunday in Islamabad; his body was found, with his face beaten, according to the Washington Post, in a canal in Mandi Baha Uddin in Pakistan's northern Gujarat district. He had been on his way to the Dunya Television studio where he was scheduled to discuss alleged links between Pakistan’s armed forces and extremist groups, said Nasim Zehra, the current-affairs director at the channel, according to Bloomberg News.
Shahzad, the author of a new book on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, was considered well connected to both the military establishment and militant groups in Pakistan.
A Human Rights Watch researcher, Ali Dayan Hasan, said that Shahzad had recently talked about being threatened by the ISI, the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military, according to BBC News.
An ISI official denied that the agency was involved in Shahzad’s death, the Washington Post reported:
“Show us the proof. Otherwise, it’s totally absurd,” the official said.
Pakistan is “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists” the Paris-based press-monitoring group Reporters Without Borders said last month, according to Bloomberg News.