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05-11-2016, 12:54 PM
Zeenat Shahzadi: Fears for missing Pakistan reporter

Zeenat Shahzadi is believed to be the first female journalist "forcibly disappeared" in Pakistan. Her family and human rights groups say she was abducted by security agencies who have been accused of illegally detaining thousands of people under the guise of anti-terrorism operations. BBC Urdu's Saba Eitizaz investigates.Nearly a year has passed since Zeenat Shahzadi disappeared but her room seems frozen in time.Set against the peeling wall paint, her dressing table is gathering dust, her comb and favourite lipstick are exactly where she left them on the morning she went missing.Her clothes are hanging in the closet and her mother, Kaneez Bibi, keeps them fresh and ironed."
I just put away her winter clothes and took out the summer ones she will wear when she comes back," she said.Her voice trembles, as do her hands as she wipes and cleans Zeenat's things.Image captionZeenat Shahzadi was proud to work as a journalist and was the main earner for her family

Zeenat's mother refuses to give up hope but it was too much for her son, Zeenat's youngest brother.Saddam, who was 17, took his own life last month in March. His family says he was Zeenat's best friend.

"He used to ask me every day when Zeenat would be coming home," said Kaneez Bibi. "On the last day he said to me, 'Mum, Zeenat is never coming back'."Kaneez Bibi starts sobbing into her scarf."It's my fault. Why did I cry for Zeenat in front of him? That child just couldn't take it any more."

Indian link

Zeenat Shahzadi was a freelance reporter for local channels and also liked to call herself a human rights activist.Despite coming from a humble background, she made a career for herself and was the only one financially supporting her family.Image captionZeenat's younger brother Saddam, seen here on the right, was unable to cope with the disappearance of his sister

Before her abduction, the 24-year-old journalist had been working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari who went missing in Pakistan in November 2012.

Through social media, she managed to get in touch with Hamid's mother in Mumbai and filed a missing person's petition in court on her behalf.

She played an important role in encouraging a government commission on enforced disappearances to investigate his case.

As a result, security agencies admitted to the commission that Hamid was in their custody.

He was later sentenced and jailed by a military court. That same year Zeenat went missing.

Human rights lawyer Hina Jillani says Zeenat's disappearance did not come out of nowhere."Zeenat's family told us that Zeenat was forcefully picked up by security officials before [her disappearance] and detained for four hours," said Hina Jillani."She told her family that they interrogated her about Hamid Ansari."

Snatched on the street

On 19 August 2015, Zeenat Shahzadi took a rickshaw to work but never got there.Two cars blocked her on the road; armed men got out and abducted her.She was due to appear before the Commission on Enforced Disappearances to give testimony on the Hamid Ansari case in the next few days.
Human rights organisations are worried that her abduction represents a dangerous trend.She is the first female journalist to be "disappeared" and it happened in broad daylight in the busy city of Lahore, not some remote rural road."We are convinced that this is the work of the secret government agencies, because when someone is detained by them, the police can be quite helpless, and we have seen that in this case," said Hina Jillani.Image captionHuman rights laywer Hina Jillani says eyewitness descriptions of how Zeenat was abducted point towards the actions of security agencies
The government sponsored Commission on Enforced Disappearances has been investigating Zeenat Shahzadi's case.A senior official, who would only talk off the record, said efforts were being made to "recover" her and expressed hope that there would be progress on her case soon.This senior official also said security agencies had denied any link to her disappearance.

Above the law?

Although the government set up a special commission to try to locate the increasing numbers of missing people in Pakistan, human rights activists say the country's security agencies are not accountable to anyone.According to government records, 1,300 out of a total of 3,000 cases are still pending unresolved before the commission.
Human rights activists are concerned that the new counter terrorism laws brought in to deal with the country's volatile security situation have a major drawback - they give security agencies ample leeway to illegally arrest people without a warrant or explanation. They can just disappear."When you are making new laws that run parallel to the existing legal system, then you are allowing certain individuals and institutions to operate without accountability and with impunity," said Hina Jillani.Image captionKaneez Bibi pays her respects at her son's grave but is at a loss as to the fate of her daughterBut it is the families of the disappeared who may be paying the highest price.
Zeenat's mother takes some comfort from visiting her son's grave. She brings flowers and prays. She sits among the tombstones for hours.But Kaneez Bibi is deprived that sense of closure for her daughter.
"Can someone just tell me whether my daughter is alive or dead? I don't even know whether to wait for her return or pray for her soul."

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05-11-2016, 03:54 PM
Not just a one off either, seems to be a nasty trend that appears wherever america sticks it's nose and runs puppet shows.
Sounds like a theme for the movie "enemy of the state" along with it's rumsfeld lookalike.
It appears the american government utilised him and assisted in his illegal operations, then dropped him like a hot cake when things got shaky.
It is a known fact that one method the white house uses to capture and kill those who oppose america's evil colonialist scheme of kufr is by contracting hits out to mercenaries, another covert method of doimg this is to put bounties on people's heads and deny any involvement in the actions of those guilty of the most henious crimes on america's behalf - assisting from the distance and washing their hands as soon as the crimes become unanwerable.

Jonathan Keith "Jack" Idema*(May 30, 1956*– January 21, 2012) was a former U.S. Army reserve special operations non-commissioned officer with a controversial history.
In September 2004 he was found guilty of running a private prison in*Afghanistan*and torturing Afghan citizens.
At the time, Idema had been portraying himself as a*U.S. government-sponsored*special forces operative*on a mission to apprehend*terrorists. However, the U.S. government has repeatedly denied most of such claims.[2]

Idema was released early by Afghanistan's president*Hamid Karzai*in April 2007, departing Afghanistan in early June, having served three years of a ten-year sentence.[3]Idema died of*AIDS*in Mexico in late January 2012.[1]

Illegal entry*into Afghanistan was one of the charges leveled against Idema and two other Americans accompanying him – former soldier*Brent Bennett*and*television*journalist*Edward Caraballo. That charge was eventually dropped.[citation needed]

Idema first traveled to Afghanistan in November 2001 to conduct what he said was "humanitarian relief" work.[30]*

It was at this time that he involved himself in the research*Robin Moore*was conducting for his book*The Hunt for Bin Laden. He was actually working for*National Geographic*with*Gary Scurka.

According to Gary Scurka, a reporter for*CBS News, Idema contacted him a few weeks after the September 11 terror attacks and announced he was going to Afghanistan to do humanitarian-aid work, saying he was to work with*Knightsbridge International*and thePartners International Foundation, two aid groups run by former military personnel.[5]

This led to Scurka and Idema presenting a film documentary project for*National Geographic.[31]Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long traveled to*Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where they were arrested for visa problems and held in a cell overnight.
The three were freed after their captors received a letter from the US embassy in Uzbekistan, written by an officer in the US Defense Attache's Office, describing Idema and Scurka as "contracting officers from the Defense Department who arrived to the Republic of Uzbekistan for an official trip."[/u]

The letter, which was verified as authentic by the director of the Department of State's press office, was dated November 2, 2001, and asks Uzbekistan's ministry of foreign affairs for help in issuing visas to Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long.

Greg Long was a member of Partners International Foundation. According to sources familiar with Idema's activities in Afghanistan[who?], Idema joined Partners International Foundation at the same time Scurka received a National Geographic assignment to produce a documentary on humanitarian aid work in Afghanistan. A memo signed by the president of National Geographic TV says Scurka would be going to Afghanistan with KnightsBridge International, and the leader of KnightsBridge,*Edward Artis, would be working with Idema. Artis was sued by Idema.[32]

Author*Robert Young Pelton*believes that Idema then used those letters and what appears to be a falsified or modified military ID. Idema claimed he had a visa similar to those carried by US special forces[33]*to convince the Afghan commanders and other people of his official status.[34][35]After Idema entered Afghanistan, both humanitarian organizations quickly became wary of Idema's intentions. In December 2001,*Edward Artis, director of Knightsbridge, wrote to U.S. Army Special Operations Command warning them of Idema's activities, stating:

“[Idema] is a very dangerous person by virtue of his carelessness and stupidity, and before he gets someone killed... he needs to be removed from the area. I feel that given the amount of time that he has been allowed to run around telling people he has been working for the U.S. Embassy, Pentagon, Special Ops under cover or the CIA, that he has garnered or bought enough contacts to pose a real threat to not only me and those near me but the over all mission of the United States and the Coalition that is fighting there."[7]”Idema later filed suit against Artis and Knightsbridge but the case was dismissed and a monetary judgement was in turn placed against him.[7]


Idema led a group he called "Task Force Saber 7" consisting of two other Americans and several Afghans. The group may have been operating in Afghanistan with independent financial backing or with funds from two lawsuit settlements Idema had won a few years earlier, one of which was for $1.8 million.[36][37]

*He frequently interacted with reporters, often going to great lengths in his interviews to stress connections with the*CIAand Special Forces. Some supporters suggest that he was a former member of an unspecified*covert operations*unit, reactivated and positioned in Afghanistan to hunt for*Osama Bin Laden*under operation*Alec Station. Relationship to the*Northern Alliance*was denied by their official representative in the United States.Some critics of Idema claim that his attempts to create a high profile with the media make it unlikely that Idema was officially connected with any branch of the military; covert operatives go to great lengths to avoid public appearances and media, and are barred from unauthorized contact.

The fact that Caraballo, who was not a soldier, was with Idema in Afghanistan to document his activities strained credibility that Idema was operating covertly.[38]
[I]Idema was known to have a volatile temper that seemed to be particularly directed against news correspondents assigned to Kabul.
On several occasions, Idema threatened journalists with bodily harm or death, and in one particular instance, at a dinner in December 2001 he threatened to kill a reporter from*Stars and Stripes*because the reporter had disclosed Idema's fraud conviction.[/b] It has been recorded that Idema did frequently contact the*Defense Department*through the front office of General*William G. Boykin, and that his information was duly acknowledged. However, all of those contacts were outside the US Military operating channels and were all one-sided calls from Idemas personal phone. Boykins office repeatedly asked Idema to stop making these unsolicited phone calls, because they were disruptive; time consuming; and Boykin could not be of assistance. Idema continued calling Boykins office to establish some sort of self-serving relationship, until his arrest. While the US government was aware of Idema's activities in Afghanistan, they stated there was unequivocally no relationship between them.The United States Central Command stated that Coalition forces received one detainee from Idema on May 3, 2004. Idema claimed that the individual was associated with the Taliban. Once in US custody, however, the detainee was determined not to be who Idema claimed, and was released in the first week of July.[40]

The United States was not the only government that had contact with Idema in Afghanistan; On three occasions, Idema tricked the Canadian led NATO mission into providing explosives experts and bomb sniffing dogs.[41]*According to a spokesman for the*ISAF, Idema called for and received technical support after his vigilante team raided compounds on June 20, 22, and 24 of 2004. ISAF personnel believed they were "providing legitimate support to a legitimate security agency."[41]

Idema also received assistance from*Yunus Qanooni; former minister, senior Afghan government security advisor, and influential member of the*Northern Alliance.[42]*In one video tape presented at Idema's trial, Yunus Qanooni thanked Idema for uncovering an assassination plot against him. In the same tape Qanooni volunteered his personal security troops to help Idema with arrests.[43]Another tape appeared to show Qanooni's forces assisting Idema in a house raid.[42]On July 4, 2004, the*United States Central Command*released a media advisory that read:“U.S. citizen Jonathan K. Idema has allegedly represented himself as an American government and/or military official. The public should be aware that Idema does not represent the American government and we do not employ him.[38][40]”
In perhaps the most terse assessment of Idema's alleged involvement in*Operation Enduring Freedom,*Billy Waugh, senior CIA covert operative and decorated former*Green Beret*who was a member of the Agency-run*"Jawbreaker"*team, said:“We only had 80 guys involved in our [Afghanistan] operations and Idema wasn't one of them.[44]”

Arrest, trial and sentencing

Idema and his associates*Brent Bennett*and Edward Caraballo were arrested on July 5, 2004, by Afghan police during a raid in which they found eight Afghan men (some hanging from their feet) bound and hooded in detention. The arrest of Idema occurred only about three months after*60 Minutes II*broke the story about the*Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse*scandal.Idema claimed to have had private contact with Lieutenant General Boykin and several other senior Pentagon officials. Regarding Boykin, Idema somehow obtained the phone number for Boykins office in the Pentagon and started making unsolicited calls from Afghanistan via his SatPhone. He was looking to establish a relationship with Boykin's office (or anyone else) to obtain funding for his efforts. The executive assistants answering Boykins phone couldn't stop Idema's constant and unwanted calls, emails, and faxes. Other senior officials in Boykins office ultimately intervened, and Idema was asked on multiple occasions to "cease and desist" with his unsolicited calls. Idema ignored these requests and continued making random phone calls to Boykins front office until his arrest. Idema subsequently stated that he had a relationship with Boykins office. The only relationship that ever existed had to do with personnel in Boykins office politely trying to get Idema to stop his unwanted phone calls, emails, and faxes.He tried further to prove his official status when he claimed to be working for the US Counter Terrorism group, the same group that some sources say he founded.[45]*He claimed his group had prevented assassination attempts on Education Minister*Yunus Qanooni*and Defense Minister Marshal*Mohammad Qasim Fahim. He also claimed the FBI interrogated several militants captured by his group and that after his arrest, the FBI removed from his premises hundreds of videos, photos and documents. Some of the pieces were later returned to Idema and his defense team. One of the videotapes shows Afghanistan's former education minister*Yunus Qanooni*thanking Idema for the arrest of two people, and offering his full cooperation in future raids.

The Defense Department's only official contact with Idema was accepting one prisoner who was held for a month by the US military[46]*but added that officials declined his offer to work with the government in capturing terror suspects in Afghanistan. In early 2004, Idema was in contact with Heather Anderson, the Pentagon's Acting Director of Security. Anderson was under the supervision of the chief official responsible for intelligence matters in Donald Rumsfeld's office. Idema told the Afghan court that Anderson commended his work but Anderson said she later turned down Idema's request to work in Afghanistan for the Pentagon. Idema continued to contact Anderson's office in hopes of establishing a relationship.[47]

Idema, Caraballo and Bennett were charged with entering the country illegally, running a private prison, and torture.[5]

*Idema's American attorney was*John Tiffany. During the trial, Idema charged that he, Caraballo, and Bennett were being beaten while in Afghan custody; however, US authorities stated the men were being treated humanely.On 15 September 2004, a three-judge Afghan panel headed by Judge*Abdul Baset Bakhtyarisentenced both Idema and Bennett to a ten-year prison term, while Caraballo received eight years. Idema and Bennett's sentences were later cut to five and three respectively. Caraballo claimed he was filming Idema and Bennett for a*documentary*on*counterterrorism. Four Afghans working with Idema were sentenced to between one and five years imprisonment.Caraballo was later pardoned by President*Hamid Karzai*and later returned to the United States. Bennett was freed early for good behavior on September 30, 2006.

Caraballo's lawyer said that the day before Caraballo left Afghanastan, Caraballo and Bennett lived in a filthy 6 by 8-foot cell with four suspected Al Qaida terrorists; the American prisoners were moved to a different prison for better protection.[48]*In a more recent assessment, the cell in which the prisoners lived was described as "posh".[49]

Amnesty and refusal to leave prison

On April 10, 2007, the*Associated Pressreported that Idema would soon be released from prison and then sent back to the United States, and that the Afghan government had granted him amnesty.[50]*However, under the amnesty that commuted his sentence he was effectively released on April 4.Idema refused to leave the prison, first demanding that his passport, personal effects, and documents that he says proves his official connection with the US government be returned to him. According to him, he was owed compensation for $500,000 worth of equipment, mostly computers, weapons and cameras, that was confiscated by the Afghan government when he was arrested.[51]*Having obtained through the offices of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul a new passport as well as money to apply for a visa to*India, Idema insisted that his belongings be returned and that a pet dog previously owned by Bennett be allowed to travel with him.[52][53]

Idema also filed another lawsuit against the US government, reaffirming allegations initially made in 2005 that he and his associates had been illegally imprisoned, except that this time, Idema was claiming that he was tortured. According to US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, "Petitioners allege that United States officials ordered their arrest, ordered their torture, stole*exculpatory evidence*during their trial and appeal, exerted undue influence over Afghan judges, and either directly or indirectly ordered judges who found petitioners innocent not to release petitioners from prison." This was a shift from the earlier strategy on the part of Idema to exonerate himself on the basis that he was acting on a Pentagon-approved mission. Instead the focus was on the trial itself, specifically whether or not due process was observed, with the added claim of being a torture victim. In both instances Idema accused the U.S. government of deliberately withholding information.[54]

Judge Sullivan subsequently ordered the FBI and the*US Department of State*to answer the allegations. Attorneys from the*US Justice Department*have requested the case be dismissed on the grounds that Idema's sentence had been commuted.[50][55]*Idema's lawyer said the government coordinated Idema's amnesty to avoid having to respond to allegations of misconduct.[52][56]

Idema's allegations of withheld evidence were originally made during his Afghan trial in 2004. When the men were arrested in early July, the tapes were confiscated by the FBI. Caraballo's lawyer, Michael Skibbie, claims that he was only allowed to access a portion of the tapes weeks after he requested access. Several of the tapes were used; however, Skibbie said several important tapes were damaged, missing or partly erased after the FBI took custody of them. Some of the footage Skibbie obtained was shown in court.

The court tapes showed Idema being greeted at an airport by high level Afghan officials, Idema being thanked by*Yunus Qanuni, Qanooni's troops working with Idema, captured suspects confessing during interrogation, and ISAF forces helping Idema.[43][46]

As he was playing out his legal options, Idema said that another reason he hadn't left was because he feared for his life, ostensibly at the hands of the Afghan government. "I could drive through the Policharki [sic] gates right now. Then what happens? I get arrested. [The intelligence service] will arrest me for not having an Afghan visa and they'll torture me and kill me. If I'm lucky, I'm only going to be tortured," he said.[51]*On June 2, 2007, Idema left the prison and was immediately flown out of the country.


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