16 February 2016

Raymond Allen Davis is not Tweeting, by the way

When a popular uprising unseats a dictator after 30 years of tyranny, it makes waves.  Huge ones.  So huge that one can excuse the media for glossing over or even ignoring what could legitimately be called ‘ripple’.  On the other hand, it must be noted that what happened in Egypt, for example, was not as some misguided and self-important Americans of the United States believe a phenomenon powered by Twitter and Facebook.  

Tyrannies sit on people.  Long tyrannies make sitting very uncomfortable. People shift position.  Something pops and things are never the same again.  The something that popped was a national stomach that just could not digest things stuffed down into it anymore.  Hosni Mubarak therefore got a bellyful; just desserts, as they say. They belly, so to speak, took time filling; it didn’t happen overnight.  The people of Egypt had to stomach a lot of things.  The last ‘thing’ precipitated the rupture, yes, but the ‘last thing’ would not have been the last had there not been a ‘first thing’. 

Those other things are now glossed over, a hero and martyr identified and new distortions penned. That’s politics. That’s historiography.  Nothing new.  We don’t know about Egypt’s tomorrow, but the focus is not about changing structures but who will succeed Hosni. Right now, friends, it’s all in the hands of the military which as we all know was Hosni’s creature and by extension that of the United States of America. 

In any event, ‘Egypt’ blocked out effectively ‘other news’, other ripples if you will and among them the story of one Raymond Davis, the slip-under-carpet of which would have been a relief to Washington.  Here’s a brief account:

On January 26, 2011, a US citizen called Raymond Davis shot 2 Pakistanis in a market area in Lahore.  Davis’ call for help brought a second vehicle which ran over a pedestrian and fled.  The victim, Rehman, a bicyclist traveling on Jail Road in Lahore, was struck and killed by a four wheel drive vehicle that was part of what this Davis describes as a “mission” in his statement to police.

Davis was taken into custody. The US Embassy says Davis was an employee which doesn’t necessarily make him a diplomat nor give him gun-carrying license. 

On January 31, 2011, ABC News reveals that Davis was associated with a security firm in Florida.  The US Embassy continues to insist that he has diplomatic status.  Pakistani officials state that the Foreign Office had not issued the ‘diplomatic card’ to Davis.  The US Government in a ‘diplomatic note’ backs down from ‘diplomatic status’ and admits that not all administrative and technical staffers of embassies and consulates in Pakistan were granted such status.  The US Embassy argued however that this fact does not annul diplomatic immunity. The US wants the Pakistani Government to make a determination and not leave resolution in the hands of the courts. All this on February 3, 2011. 

While Pakistani and US officials haggle over diplomatic niceties, two men lie dead.  On February 6, 2011, a woman called Kanwal commits suicide by taking insecticide.  She was the 26-year old widow of one of Davis’ victims, Faheem Ahmed who had married her just 6 months ago. 

Meanwhile, people have been checking out this Raymond Davis.  The call records for Davis indicates considerable contacts in South Waziristan and other troubled areas.   He is now found to have visited these areas, positing as a newly-converted British Muslim. We don’t know if the US Embassy knew all this or actually sanctioned such bluff. It is hard to believe however that relevant screening would not have been carried out. 

Davis’ camera contains photographs of sensitive areas in Pakistan and especially defence installation. Perhaps capturing such images served some ‘diplomatic’ purpose, we do not know and the USA will not tell.   His camera contained photos of the strategic Balahisar Fort, the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Peshwar and of Pakistani army bunkers on the eastern border with India, we are now told.

It’s now being called ‘a crisis’ by the USA.  Arm-twisting has begun.  Members of Congress have openly threatened Pakistan of withdrawing billions of dollars of promised aid unless the man is released.  While Davis claims he shot in self-defense, neither he nor his backers in Washington, including CNN which is giving the usually ‘our man cannot be anything but innocent’ spin on the story, will deny the profile of the man that is emerging in the investigations.

There is more to the story.  Davis in his ‘other life’ is a co-owner of Hyperion Protective Services (HPS), LLC, a private security business run by himself and his wife and based in Las Vegas, Nevada with a branch office in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.  He had given his wife a number to contact should he fall into trouble. The number belongs to a CIA official.  The US Embassy is mum on this, as it is regarding the right or otherwise of Davis to carry a firearm.  Nothing either on the fact that the two vehicles involved in the incident were not registered to the US consulate, nor the fact that they were heading towards Mozang Chungi, a densely a densely populated area of small shops and street vendors typically only used by local residents.  

Security sources in Pakistan state: “No American tourist or diplomat would ever go there, certainly not two car loads of heavily armed private contractors equipped for a mission of some kind.  The only possible reason to be there would be terrorism.  The area has been attacked before by terrorists, taking advantage of the crowds and confusion.  We suspect we may have stumbled on the source of previous terror attacks and, in fact, broken up what may have become another ‘Mumbai.’
We have false identity, phony license plates, a car filled with weapons, radios and surveillance gear, two men being shot in the back with special fragmenting anti-personnel ammunition, 9 unexplained trips to Afghanistan over the past 18 months and a lot of mumbo jumbo being mouthed by US diplomats.

I am waiting for something on this man to come on Twitter, i.e. from someone like Hillary Clinton, or perhaps a Facebook post.  Might cause some waves, huh?

This was first published in the 'Daily News' on February 15, 2011 under the same headline. 

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reached at msenevira@gmail.com