Did an American Consulate Employee Kill Two Men in Pakistan?

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On Friday, Raymond Davis, an American employed at the U.S. consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, appeared in a Pakistani court on murder charges. As of now, the story of how Davis came to be in court is hotly disputed, but according to Pakistani police reports, Davis was driving through Lahore on Thursday when two men rode up on a motorcycle and attempted to rob him. Davis shot and killed both men. At some point, Davis called the U.S. consulate for help, and when a Land Cruiser from the consulate arrived on the scene to assist him, it hit and killed a third man.

Right now, there are more questions than answers in this case, so here's a look at what we know and don't know:

  • Who Is Raymond Davis?  Davis is employed at the American consulate in Lahore, though it's not clear what he does there. The New York Times reports that in police statements, he's variously described as a "security official" or "technical adviser." The BBC reports that Davis "did not have diplomatic immunity and was not one of the foreign security personnel allowed to carry firearms, according to the Pakistani authorities."

  • Why Did He Kill Two People?  According to the BBC, Davis had "withdrawn money from a cash machine" shortly before the men on the motorcycle confronted him. "According to the official police report released Friday, the police found weapons on the dead men," the Times reports. The Times also notes that "roadside robberies by armed men on motorcycles seeking mobile phones and other valuables from drivers, particularly those alone, are relatively common" in Lahore.

  • Who Were the Men Who Were Killed?  One of the two men on the motorcycle has not been named in the press. The other was Faizan Haider, a man in his early 20s. Haider's older brother told reporters that Faizan "was innocent, he was not a criminal. We need justice." The identity of the man killed by the Land Cruiser has not been made public.

  • What Will Happen to Davis Now?  He'll stand trial in Pakistan, and officials are adamant about not showing him any preferential treatment just because he happens to be employed by the U.S. consulate. "Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters in Lahore that authorities would not bow to any pressure from the U.S. in handling the case," reports the Los Angeles Times. The brother of one of the men on the motorcycle told reporters that he and his family would try to have Davis hanged.

  • What Will the Larger Fallout Be?  Almost every news outlet reporting on this case has mentioned that it's "likely to inflame anti-American sentiments in the nuclear-armed state," as the Los Angeles Times puts it. Many Pakistanis are, at best, warily tolerant of the presence of Americans in their cities, and the issue of U.S. diplomats and state officials carrying weapons has been a pungent one in Pakistan for a number of years. Following the deaths of the three men on Thursday, some 300 protesters staged demonstrations in Lahore and Karachi, blocking the roads and burning tires and the U.S. flag.

  • Could Spies Have Been Involved Somehow?  That's what Jeff Stein at The Washington Post wonders. Stein talks to Fred Burton, a former deputy chief with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, who says that the incident in Lahore "looks like an informant meet gone bad more than a car-jacking attempt." Burton says that Davis displayed "a high degree of firearms discipline and training" and "outstanding situational awareness to recognize the attack unfolding and shoot the other men ... 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."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.