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NYT: Pakistan spy agency behind reporter's death

Syed Saleem Shahzad
A file photo of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad. AP

U.S. officials have "conclusive and reliable" intelligence showing Pakistan's premier spy agency directed the killing of a journalist after he wrote embarrassing reports suggesting militants had infiltrated the country's military, reports the New York Times.

Shahzad wrote about terrorism and security for the Asia Times Online and other publications. Police said the 40-year-old's body bore signs of torture when it was found at the beginning of June after he had been missing for two days.

In an article shortly before he disappeared off an Islamabad street, Shahzad claimed the Pakistani navy had likely been infiltrated by members of al Qaeda, reported The Washington Post.

After that report, Shahzad told Human Rights Watch of threats from Pakistani intelligence officers.

The journalist was found 100 miles from his home in the capital city, with his face badly beaten.

Pakistan's intelligence, the ISI, denied having anything to do with Shahzad's death after the Post report.

"Show us the proof. Otherwise, it's totally absurd," an ISI official told the newspaper.

But several Obama administration officials tell The New York Times that intelligence gathered soon after Shahzad disappeared is as good a smoking gun, implicating the feared spy network in the man's abduction and death.

One of the officials - all of whom spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity - described the ISI's alleged role in Shahzad's death as "barbaric and unacceptable". No details on the intelligence pointing to the ISI were given.

It is the second day in a row The New York Times has written an article implicating Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies in acts of terrorism.

Why won't Pakistan dump the Islamists?

A lead story in the newspaper on Monday was based on an interview with a former militant commander, who said in no uncertain terms that Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence agencies are still allied with groups including the Taliban and the Haqqani network as a means of countering the perceived threats of India and the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

He told the newspaper he attended several meetings inside Pakistan, in and since 2001, where retired brass from Pakistan's military and the ISI discussed strategy to attack the U.S. military in neighboring Afghanistan.

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