Mullen: Pakistan spy service sanctioned journalist’s murder

Laura Rozen

It is not turning out to be a good day for Pakistan in Washington.

This morning the Washington Post ran a front-page investigation into allegations by Pakistan's nuclear godfather A.Q. Khan that North Korea bribed Pakistani generals for nuclear technology.

Then this afternoon, the top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said flat out that the U.S. government believes Pakistan's spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, sanctioned the assassination of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

Shahzad, 41, former Pakistan bureau chief for Asian Times Online, was found murdered May 31, days after he reported that a May 22 attack on a Pakistani naval port near Karachi was linked to al Qaeda's penetration of Pakistan's navy.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that U.S. officials believed Pakistan's intelligence services ordered Shahzad's killing. But the U.S. officials cited in the piece were unnamed.

Today, however, Mullen made the allegation on the record, as National Journal's Yochi Dreazen reports:

"It was sanctioned by the government," Mullen told journalists in Washington today, Dreazen writes. "I have not seen anything to disabuse that the government knew about it."

Mullen's observation is especially noteworthy, since he's perhaps the U.S. official who has forged the closest rapport with Pakistan's powerful Army chief Gen. Ashraf Parvez Kayani. (Pakistan's ISI is a division of the military.)