Friday, June 16, 2006

Murder of a Journalist

The body of Pakistani journalist Hayatullah Khan was found last Friday handcuffed and shot from behind. He had been missing since December 5, 2005, when five masked gunmen abducted him.

Amnesty International has some background.

On December 1, a house containing al Qaida operative Hamza Rabia was blown up in North Waziristan. Pakistani officials claimed essentially that Rabia blew himself up.

Hayatullah Khan was the first journalist to photograph pieces of shrapnel which local villagers said they had found in the rubble of the house. The shrapnel found at the site is reportedly stamped with the words "AGM-114", "guided missile" and the initials "US". It is believed to be part of a Hellfire missile. These missiles are used by the US Airforce’s remote controlled Predator aircraft.

Hayatullah's brother makes some serious allegations as per The New York Times:

Mr. Dawar, 21, said that in a meeting with local intelligence operatives and government officials on May 15, he had been assured that the family would hear something about Mr. Khan on or about June 15.

"And this is what we have got: his body," he said. He had been assured time and again by Pakistani officials, Mr. Dawar said, that Hayatullah was alive and well but had been detained on matters relating to national security.

"We knew it all along whom or which agency had held him. There is not even an iota of doubt in our mind. He was wearing government handcuffs."

His family suspected that Mr. Khan had been picked up by an intelligence agency after he first released pictures of the remains of American missiles that had killed a senior Al Qaeda operative, Hamza Rabia, in North Waziristan on Dec. 1 last year.

His pictures proving United States involvement in taking out Mr. Rabia, exposed as false the Pakistani military's claim that the Al Qaeda operative had been killed in a blast inside the house, his brother pointed out.

Mr. Khan was married and the father of four.


Perpetual Outsider said...

May his death one day not be in vain and open the way for free press worldwide, and may he rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

On Geo TV's news program, Aaj Kamran Khan ke Saath, a journalist quoted Mr Hayatullah Khan's family as saying that the government agencies had given Mr. Khan three choices before he disappeared, 1. to leave journalism altogether 2. to leave the region 3. to take up a government post (as two other journalists had, if I understood that correctly).