U.S. officials believe that Raymond A. Davis, the CIA contractor in Pakistani custody for shooting two men, is in serious danger - even from the guards at the prison where he is now being held.
Davis was working for the CIA as an independent contractor in Lahore when the shooting incident occurred on Jan. 27, according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials. He has been at the center of a tug-of-war between U.S. and Pakistani officials ever since.
The Pakistani government is under significant public pressure to prosecute Davis. The incident has set off massive anti-American protests and calls for Davis to be executed for the murders.
"Our first fear is that the sentiment of the street in Pakistan is, 'Let's take him and hang him,'" said a current senior U.S. official.
According to the official, administration officials fear that the Pakistani government lacks sufficient control over Pakistani municipal police, who have Davis in custody.
A second U.S. official told ABC News that even Pakistani officials are concerned for Davis' safety in the Lahore prison where he now awaits his next court date on Feb. 25. According to the official, the jail holds 4,000 inmates, many of whom are militants, and as many as three prisoners have been "murdered by guards." Davis is currently being held in a separate part of the jail for his safety, and his guards have had their guns taken away. His food is being tasted first by dogs to make sure it isn't poisoned.
According to a current senior U.S. official and a senior intelligence consultant who worked with Davis, the 36-year-old American is a former Blackwater contractor who was posted to Lahore as part of the CIA's Global Response Staff, or GRS, a unit of security and bodyguards assigned to war zones and troubled countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Members of the GRS most often accompany CIA case officers, who meet with clandestine sources.
Davis and a group of fellow security officers lived in a safehouse in Lahore. The CIA keeps safehouses for security personnel in an effort to limit the ability for militants to track their movements, the intelligence contractor said.
ABC News was asked by the U.S. government to withhold publication of Davis's affiliation with the CIA, citing fears that disclosure would jeopardize his safety. After several foreign media organizations published parts of his background, the U.S. government rescinded its request to ABC News to embargo the information.
On Jan. 27, Davis left the safehouse and conducted an "area familiarization route," according to the senior U.S. official. He drove through various Lahore neighborhoods for several hours. It was during his route, two U.S. officials say, that Davis stopped at an A.T.M. and possibly drew the attention of two Pakistani men on a motorcycle.
Davis has told the police in Lahore that the two men were attempting to rob him when he fired several rounds from his Glock handgun, hitting them both. The police report says that Davis claimed one of the men had a gun cocked at him. Davis fired multiple rounds from inside his car, killing one man in the street, while the second died later from his injuries.