Syed Saleem Shahzad



Designation: Investigative journalist
Institution / Org:

Asia Times Online

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Syed Saleem Shahzad (3 November 1970 – 31 May 2011) was a Pakistani investigative journalist who wrote widely for leading European and Asian media. He served as the Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online (Hong Kong) and Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI). He was found dead in a canal in North-east Pakistan, showing signs of torture, two days after he was apparently kidnapped. Leading journalists accused the Pakistan intelligence services of being behind his killing.


Shahzad covered a variety of topics through his career, including global security issues, Pakistani armed forces, Islamic movements, and Muslim resistance movements in Lebanon and Iraq. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda were the regular topics of his writing. He was an international journalist who travelled widely in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. He also wrote for Le Monde Diplomatique (France), La Stampa (Italy) and Dawn (Pakistan). He was South Asia Correspondent for Italian news agency Adnkronos International (AKI).His opinion pieces appeared in the Qatari-based and Boston Review. Shahzad introduced the world to hitherto unknown Al-Qaeda figures including Sheikh Essa. He had interviewed several leading militants long before they became internationally known, including Sirajuddin Haqqani and Qari Ziaur Rahman.

Shahzad interviewed Ilyas Kashmiri shortly after Ilyas was appointed chief of Al-Qaeda’s military committee.His last book Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, was published shortly before his death. Shahzad's work was regularly reproduced in Pakistani English dailies including the Daily Times, the Nation and The Post, and in Urdu newspapers such as Mashriq Peshawar and Aaj Peshawar. His articles were reproduced in many English dailies in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, as well as in local-language dailies. His work was often quoted in the US, Canadian and Indian press.

Saleem was an associate of the Pakistan Security Research Unit of the department of Peace Studies of the University of Bradford. In November 2006 he was held in Taliban captivity in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan for a few days. He wrote a detailed account of his days in captivity and time he spent with the Taliban in a series, "In the Land of the Taliban" published in Asia Times Online.


Shahzad disappeared on the evening of 29 May 2011 in Islamabad. He reportedly left his home around 5:30 pm local time that evening to take part in a TV show scheduled for 6:00 pm, but at 5:42 pm his cell phone was switched off and he failed to arrive at the television bureau. A complaint was lodged with the police the following morning.On May 31 it was reported that his car had been found with an unidentified body. Later on the same day, his family confirmed that he was dead, with police stating that his body had been found in a canal in Mandi Bahauddin district and his car found at Sarai Alamgir in Pakistan's northern Gujarat district, some 150 km (93 miles) south-east of the capital. His car was found about 10 km (six miles) away.

In October 2010, Shahzad wrote to Human Rights Watch predicting that he might be detained by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) intelligence agency. According to a researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ali Dayan Hasan, he was "fairly sure that sooner or later something was going to happen".In an email passed to HRW, Shahzad informed Hasan that he was threatened by an ISI official who said: "I must give you a favor. We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist had a list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know."

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani ordered an immediate inquiry into the kidnapping and murder, and on 3 June Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik duly announced an investigative judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court justice. Bowing to unprecedented demonstrations from Pakistani media, PM Gilani signed an order in the early morning hours of June 18, 2011 establishing a judicial commission, lead by Justice Main Saqib Nisar, to investigate the circumstances surrounding Shazad's death. The commission was to release its findings within six weeks.The New York Times reported on July 4, 2011 the Obama Administration had "reliable and conclusive" intelligence that implicated senior officials of the ISI in directing the death of Shahzad.

Profile source : Wikipedia

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