Did Ray Davis Shoot Two Pakistani Agents?

Pakistanis say the American killed men who worked for their spy agency.

ByABC News
January 27, 2011, 8:04 PM

Feb. 9, 2011 — -- The public narrative from the United States is simple: one of its diplomats in one of the most dangerous countries in the world was threatened by two men with guns, and the diplomat shot and killed them in self-defense. He sits in jail, "illegally detained," because he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

But the version of events told by multiple Pakistani officials -- and adamantly denied by the U.S. State Department -- is utterly different.

The four Pakistani officials who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity say that the two men who Raymond Davis killed in Lahore last month were working for Pakistan's premiere intelligence service, and they were following Davis because he was spying.

If true, their story dramatically changes the nature of an incident that is already severely straining the two countries' already tumultuous relationship. Davis's detention is fraying the U.S. alliance with Pakistan, one of the most delicate and important in the world. U.S. and Pakistani officials both admit the fate of Raymond Davis could threaten an alliance that is critical to the war in Afghanistan and the fight against al Qaeda.

According to the Pakistani officials, the two men had been sent to track Raymond Davis by the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which believed that Davis had crossed "a red line" and needed to be followed.

In late January, those officials say, Davis was asked to leave an area of Lahore restricted by the military. His cell phone was tracked, said one government official, and some of his calls were made to the Waziristan tribal areas, where the Pakistani Taliban and a dozen other militant groups have a safe haven. Pakistani intelligence officials saw him as a threat who was "encroaching on their turf," the official said.

U.S. officials dispute the story. Davis came to Pakistan on a diplomatic passport and is a "member of the technical and administrative staff" of the embassy in Islamabad. He therefore enjoys diplomatic immunity, which means he may not be tried for a crime in Pakistan. In public and in private, U.S. officials say they do not believe reports that the two men Davis shot and killed were working for the ISI. They say the men had robbed another person before they approached Davis' car.

"We don't find [the reports] credible," P.J. Crowley, the State Department's spokesman, said at his daily press briefing on Monday.

The U.S. says his detention is "illegal" and has put extreme pressure on Pakistan to release him.

According to two officials close to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, the White House has threatened to shut the U.S.'s three consulates in Pakistan and postpone the official bilateral, strategic dialogue, as well as Zardari's upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.

A senior U.S. official declined comment on the consulates, but acknowledged that any meeting between the Pakistani and U.S. governments would be dominated by the Davis case right now -- making most bilateral meetings useless.

Last weekend Secretary of State Hillary Clinton canceled a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, according to two U.S. officials.