Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) deserves a medal of honor. Quite an intel
op; whether it did it directly, subcontracted by
military intelligence or through ''rogue''
elements, it has set the bar very high.
After all, when a Pakistani journalist -
not a foreigner - writes that al-Qaeda is
infiltrated deep inside the Pakistani military
establishment, one's got to act with utmost
So you abduct the journalist. You
torture him. And you snuff him. Target
assassination - the low-tech version. After all,
if the Pentagon can drone their way to tribal
heaven - and get away with it - why not join the
Saleem was a brother. In the
aftermath of 9/11 we worked in tandem; he was in
Karachi, I was in Islamabad/Peshawar. After
the US ''victory'' in
Afghanistan I went to visit him at home. He
plunged me into Karachi's wild side - in this and
other visits. During a night walk on the beach he
confessed his dream; he wanted to be Pakistan
bureau chief for Asia Times, which he regarded as
the K2 of journalism. He got it.
years before ''AfPak'' was invented, he found his
perfect beat - the intersection between the ISI,
the myriad Taliban factions on both sides of
AfPak, and all sorts of jihadi eruptions. That was
his sterling beat; and no one could bring more
hardcore news from the heart of hardcore than
I had met some of his sources in
Islamabad and Karachi - but over the years he kept
excavating deeper and deeper into the shadows.
Sometimes we seriously debated over e-mails - I
feared some dodgy/devious ISI strands were playing
him while he always vouched for his sources.
Cornered by the law of the jungle, no
wonder most of my Pakistani friends, during the
2000s, became exiles in the United States or
Canada. Saleem stayed - threats and all, the only
concession relocating from Karachi to Islamabad.
Now they finally got him. Not an al-Qaeda
or jihadi connection. Not a tribal or Taliban
connection, be it Mullah Omar or Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan. It had to be the ISI - as he knew, and
told us, all along.
So congratulations to the ISI - the ''state within
the state''. Mission accomplished.
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is
Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007)
and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad
during the surge. His latest is Obama does
Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).