Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spy rendezvous gone bad,Lahore shootout

A senior former U.S. diplomatic security agent suggested Thursday that the American involved in a fatal shootout in Lahore, Pakistan, was the victim of a spy meeting gone awry, not the target of a robbery or car-jacking attempt.
"It looks like an informant meet gone bad more than a car-jacking attempt,” said Fred Burton, a former deputy chief of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service’s counter-terrorism division.

Early reports were sketchy. Many said the American, identified in the Pakistani press variously as
, or just “
,” had shot two armed men on a motorcycle “in self defense” as they approached his car in a robbery attempt. As the American sped away, another Pakistani on a motorcycle was killed, according to the reports.

[SATURDAY UDATE: Embassy officials have identified the man as Raymond A. Davis. A senior U.S. official quoted by The Post said Davis was a "permanent diplomat" who was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad as a security officer, a role the official described as "a guy who is in the protection of people."]

A Lahore police official earlier told The Post that “another U.S. vehicle was traveling with the sedan and that the American then fled the scene in that car. As it sped away, it hit a motorcyclist, killing him.”

Pakistan's GEO TV broadcast a photo of a broad-faced, 40-something man in a plaid shirt sitting in the back of a police car, who it identified as the American involved in the shootout.

According to Burton, who worked on several major terrorism cases in the 1980s and 1990s, the incident showed that David “had outstanding situational awareness to recognize the attack unfolding and shoot the other men.”

“It shows a high degree of firearms discipline and training,” Burton added. “Either the consulate employee's route was compromised by terrorist or criminal surveillance, or it's feasible he was set up in some sort of double-agent operation, if this wasn't a criminal motive.”

David was quickly apprehended and surrendered a Beretta pistol and three cell phones, according to local reports quoting police. He remains in custody.

No immediate explanation was given for David’s presence in Lahore’s Qartaba Chowk area, a mixed commercial and residential where two major roads meet.

“Even if U.S. officials are cleared of wrongdoing, “the incident could be explosive in a nation where anti-American sentiment is strong. Some Pakistani news channels covering the episode raised the possibility that the Americans involved were employees of Blackwater, an American security contractor, now known as Xe Services, that is widely viewed in Pakistan as a sort of mercenary agency.”


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