Did Ray Davis Shoot Two Pakistani Agents?

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

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.

Men Followed Davis For Two Hours, Says Official

Davis was traveling through a lower middle class part of Lahore on Thursday, Jan. 27, when the incident took place. The men he shot had been following him for at least two hours, one of the Pakistani officials claimed, and recorded some of his movements on their cell phone cameras. Davis has a U.S. Special Forces background and runs Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, a company that provides "loss and risk management professionals."

The U.S. embassy in Islamabad refused to respond to questions about why Davis was armed, who he had been calling, or whether he was found in a sensitive part of the Lahore cantonment.

That the ISI sent the equivalent of two hired guns to trail Davis is a sign that the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies is at a low point, according to all four officials quoted in this article. In October, the ISI helped reveal the name of the CIA station chief -- inadvertently, according to a separate, senior Pakistani official -- forcing the station chief to leave the country.

The two men's alleged connection to the intelligence services was first reported by a Pakistani newspaper, the Express Tribune.

The U.S. has also threatened Pakistan's military with cutting off some of its aid if Davis is not released. Last week, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R.-California, traveled to Pakistan and met with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the Pakistan Army chief of staff, as well as Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

McKeon and the congressional delegation pointed out that U.S. anger could extend to the floor of the House if Davis is not released – and that could threaten the Pakistani military's more than $2 billion in aid per year.

McKeon said that he "could foresee a member of Congress coming to the floor and offering an amendment to strike military funding for Pakistan," an aide to the House Armed Services Committee told ABC News.

U.S.: Pakistan Fears Unrest If Ray Davis Released

The U.S. officials who deny that the men Davis shot were intelligence officials believe Davis is being held despite his diplomatic immunity because of fears that releasing him might cause domestic unrest. He is being held in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, where Zardari's chief political opposition controls the provincial assembly. Some of the government's political opponents -- as well as some parts of the Pakistani media -- benefit from stories that suggest U.S. contractors or spies operate throughout the country.

The Pakistani officials agreed with that, acknowledging that Davis' release could at least temporarily weaken the federal government and spark protests in Lahore and perhaps across the country.

Adding to the pressure on Pakistan not to release Davis, the wife of one of the men he killed committed suicide Sunday by taking a tablet usually used to keep grain in a silo from going bad in the winter. When she first arrived at the hospital she was still able to speak, and her doctors allowed television reporters to interview her. She released a diatribe of hate to describe why she swallowed the tablet.

"I do not expect any justice from this government," Shumaila Kanwal said. "That is why I want to kill myself.

"I want blood for blood," she said. "The way my husband was shot, his killer should be shot in the same fashion."

Last Thursday, Davis appeared in court without a translator and without prior notification to the U.S., the Islamabad embassy said in a statement. U.S. officials say those events convinced them Davis could not receive a fair trial in Pakistan. The judge extended his detention for another eight days. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Friday, Feb. 9.

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