EXCLUSIVE: CIA contractor who shot two Pakistani robbers then feared death at the hands of mob breaks silence to tell of real-life Homeland plot which became diplomatic crisis
- CIA contractor Raymond Davis was held captive in Lahore, Pakistan after killing Faizan Haider, 22, and Faheem Shamshad, 26, in self-defense January 2011
- The former security contractor had been driving in the city area when two men in a motorbike brandished a gun at him and in fear he fired back
- He was followed an angry mob of locals, thje window in his car broke, and he was only saved when two Pakistani soldiers came to his help – but then arrested him
- He was kept in Pakistan’s Kot Lahkpat jail – which is notorious for its brutal regime, murders, and beatings of prisoners
- Davis was eventually released from prison in March 2011 in a controversial $2.4million blood-money deal – known as Diya under Islamic law
- Incident inspired start of Homelands fourth series
- Now he breaks his silence in exclusive DailyMail.com interview
A CIA contractor, a double killing in a hail of bullets on a crowded Pakistani street and a diplomatic crisis that set US-Pakistan relations back years.
It could easily be the plot line of Homeland – and in fact helped inspire a key incident in the CIA spy drama.
But for Raymond Davis – who shot two men in self-defense on a busy Lahore street on January 25, 2011 – it was a dramatic episode in his life that he’s not likely to forget.
Now he is breaking his silence at last in an exclusive DailyMail.com interview.
Speaking for the first time about the incident that made worldwide headlines and sparked a diplomatic nightmare for the U.S., Davis recounts his ‘hell’ of being jailed and ‘tortured’ in a Lahore prison for 49 days and how he was accused of being a spy and interrogated by agents from Pakistan’s feared Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
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Diplomatic nightmare: Davis made worldwide headlines after Pakistanis accused him of being a CIA spy and threw him in prison for killing two men who brandished a gun
Jailed: Davis believed he would be taken to the police station where they would call the Regional Security Officer and then be released – but later learned he would not be returning home. Instead he was led to court in chains.
Aftermath: To add to the mess a third entirely innocent man, motorcycle rider Ibad-ur-Rehman, was crushed by an American Toyota Land Cruiser as it rushed to Davis’s aid
Burned in effigy: The hatred for Davis was obvious as the diplomatic incident became a full-blown crisis. This was the reaction when he was freed and allowed to leave Pakistan in a carefully-crafted deal which took advantage of Islamic ‘blood money’ laws
Former CIA contractor Raymond Davis, now 42, spoke publicly for the first time since he was held prisoner in Pakistan after killing two men in self-defense in 2011
He recalls in detail the harrowing moment he feared being stoned to death.
And in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com Davis also discusses the emotional toll his incarceration took revealing that, at his lowest point, he believed his country had abandoned him, leaving him to rot in a Pakistani hell-hole jail for the rest of his days.
Davis said: ‘I shot two men in self-defense, was almost dragged out of a car and beaten by an angry crowd, I was thrown in prison for 49 days and accused of being a CIA spy – it was as close to hell as I ever want to get.
‘I had lost my liberty and there were times I thought I’d never see my son again.’
Davis was eventually released from prison in March, 2011 in a controversial $2.4million blood-money deal – known as Diya under Islamic law – and he believes that if it weren’t for the US Government’s secret plan to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan just months later he may not have made it home.
That Tuesday in January was like any other for Davis.
The former special forces soldier, who was working as a security contractor for the US Consulate in Lahore, woke up, ate hard boiled eggs and drank orange juice before heading out of the secure consulate compound on to the streets of Pakistan’s second most populous city.
The sun was out and the streets of Lahore – a city of some six million people – were as bustling as usual.
Davis, whose call sign was Jinx, wanted to recce a route for a journey he needed to take someone on – a routine security job.
But before he set off he made a decision he now lives to regret.
‘It was a normal, quiet day so I asked for a vehicle,’ he recalls. ‘But all of the hard cars, the armored vehicles that we had, were already taken so ‘I chose to take a soft skin car, just a normal car we drive every day.’
He says it wasn’t a decision he took lightly but Davis had no choice but to drive the white Honda Civic made available to him that morning.
‘I remember I was driving and there was nothing out of the ordinary,’ says Davis. ‘Heading up the road there was a song that came on the radio, it was Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’.
Demands he must die: The deaths, Davis’s arrest and incarceration and the Obama White House’s insistence that Davis had diplomatic immunity was the focus of anger n Pakistan
Unrest: Hundreds of Pakistanis protested against the release of Davis by burning American flags. Inside prison, he was in fear for his life
Aftermath: Waseem Shamzad and Imran Haider (left) were brothers of the men who were killed. Shumaila (right) widow of Faheem Shamshad attempted suicide after the death of her husband
‘It was very funny because she gets to the part where she says, ‘I Kissed a Girl’, but a man’s voice cuts in and says ‘person’ instead of girl. I always got a chuckle out of that every time I heard it.
‘The traffic was bumper to bumper, all the lanes were full, motorcycles, tuk-tuks, everyone is riding in between lanes and racing as they take off from a red light, it is a sight to see.’
But things quickly turned sour for Davis, who says he was always on ‘yellow alert’ while in Pakistan.
‘I’m approaching an intersection in traffic,’ he recalls.
‘I’m sitting there, checking my mirrors, making sure everything is alright, when in front of me I saw a gun come out and begin to rack.’
As Davis waited in traffic at the junction known as Mozang Chowk, two men on a motorbike pulled up in front of him.
The pillion passenger removed a pistol from under his shirt and ‘racked’ the weapon – the action taken to put the first round in the chamber.
Davis says what happened next went down in the blink of an eye.
His Special Forces marksman training kicked in and he removed his own gun from his holster, a brand new semi-automatic 9mm Glock 17 pistol, and opened fire on the two men.
‘It happens very, very quickly,’ he explains. ‘The moment you see threat, the adrenaline dump hits, everything happens in microseconds and you go from there, there’s no time to second guess and make decisions. It’s a ground view perspective.’
Davis fired ten shots in rapid succession hitting the men in the head, chest and legs with expert precision – they both died.
Davis, who has cropped gray hair, says he has no regrets.
He said his training and experience led him to believe that the men posed a threat to his life and he acted in self-defense.
‘In war zones everyone has a gun, but (in this instance) the gun goes from a concealed position to an open position, this happens in microseconds.
‘The next actions you see is, he charges the gun, that tells me he knows how to use it and there’s an intent there, why would you rack a gun on someone if you are not going to use it?
Flashback: Davis’s ordeal was apparently the inspiration for an episode of Showtime’s spy thriller series, Homeland, when CIA chief Sandy Bachman, played by Corey Stoll (left) was dragged from his car by a hate mob
Brutal: The scenes on Homeland offered some idea of what happened to Davis as a mob tried to drag him from his car. In the series, the CIA operatives were in their own – but in real life two Pakistani paramilitary security officers came to Davis’s aid
Living in fear: In Homeland, CIA station chief Sandy Bachman was the target of a hate mob which dragged him from his car as Peter Quinn and Carry Mathieson tried to make their way through Islamabad. Davis’s ordeal played out on the chaotic streets of Lahore
‘The gun is racked and it starts to be aimed. You could say he didn’t have ammunition, he was just trying to scare you, but in that moment you don’t have the luxury to second guess, you have to make a choice, make a decision.’
Davis says there were multiple threats in Pakistan during that time from various terror groups keen to kill westerners, especially US Government targets.
‘Western male, usually has tattoos, well-built, generally wears sunglasses or a ball cap. They automatically assume you are contractor and if they can kill or capture you, there’s a bounty for that,’ he says.
‘Do I feel I acted appropriately given the situation? Absolutely.
‘I don’t regret pulling my gun and defending myself. At the end of the day I had a two-and-a-half year old son at the time, I’m going to work, then I’m coming home to see him.’
In the moments after the shooting the situation escalated rapidly.
Davis got out of his car to check for any further threats before putting his gun away.
But crowds of people began to gather around him – and the air thickened with tension.
HOW BLOOD-MONEY WORKS
Raymond Davis was eventually released from prison in March 2011 in a controversial $2.4million blood-money deal – known as Diya under Islamic law.
- The law requires the assailant to compensate the family of victims in cases of murder or property damage
- The fines completely protect the offender, and his family, from the vengeance of the injured family.
- The Islamic term for the money is a Qisa
- The payment goes hand in hand with the idea of ‘blood feuds’ and honor killings, where aggrieved families descend into a spiral of revenge attacks in order to uphold family honor
- It was initially believed the money had come from the U.S., but thenSecretary of State Hillary Clinton said America had not paid the grieving families
- Instead, the U.S. agreed to reimburse Pakistan after Pakistani officials urged the victims’ families to accept cash and drop the case
Davis got back in his car but in doing so the vehicle accidentally rolled forward because he hadn’t pulled the parking brake.
He said: ‘That’s when they thought I was leaving and they started beating on the car and trying to pull me out,’ Davis recalls. ‘Up until that point there was no mob, but after the car rolled they busted out the window and started pulling me out. I decided I had to leave.’
Davis began moving off through the traffic but he kept getting held up – and the mob followed.
‘There was about 200-300 people there and a motorcyclist came up to my car and started yelling, this whipped the crowd up into a frenzy, it became very intense, very quickly.’
Members of the crowd started reaching into the car trying to open the doors and pull Davis out – he frantically fought them off, kicking and punching every arm that reached in.
It wasn’t until a local police officer and two Punjabi Rangers arrived and got into Davis’ car.
They took over and managed to guide him away from the crowd.
‘At that point I thought we’re going to spend some time at the police station, we’ll call the Regional Security Officer and then I’ll be able to leave,’ he said.
‘But it drastically changed because they didn’t call the consulate or get the RSO there. It was just a barrage of questions and very chaotic.’
Rather than let Davis make contact with consulate officials the police decided to move him to the Lahore military police training college in a bid to keep him out of U.S. control.
It was the beginning of a dark period for Davis – 49 days of confinement that would test his character and resolve.
Once at the training college Davis was confined in a bunk room and questioned some more by police before being taken to court the next morning, where he had no lawyer or representation.
Pakistani authorities wanted to charge Davis with murder, but the Obama administration insisted he was an ‘administrative and technical official’ attached to its Lahore consulate and had diplomatic immunity.
What followed was a complex battle of wills between the Pakistan and US governments during which Davis became a high value political pawn.
Pakistani prosecutors accused Davis of excessive force, saying he fired 10 shots and jumped out of his car to shoot one man twice in the back as he fled. The man’s body was found 30 feet from his motorbike, it was claimed.
The two men Davis killed were later identified as Faizan Haider, 22 and Faheem Shamshad (also known as Muhammad Faheem), aged 26. Both men had been arrested more than 50 times in connection with street robberies.
To add to the mess a third entirely innocent man, motorcycle rider Ibad-ur-Rehman, was crushed by an American Toyota Land Cruiser as it rushed to Davis’s aid.
The two men in it were contractor colleagues Davis had summoned to help him.
After the accident, the vehicle fled the scene and headed without stopping to the US Consulate, jettisoning items outside Faletti’s Hotel in the city.
Police say they included four ammunition magazines containing 100 bullets, various battery cells, a baton, scissors, a pair of gloves, a compass with knife, a black colored mask/blindfold, and a piece of cloth bearing the American flag.
Six years later: The former special forces soldier turned CIA contractor who was paraded in chains by the Pakistanis stands by his actions and believes he acted appropriately given his situation
Pakistani officials believed the men were CIA and the U.S. refused their demands to interrogate them, saying they had already left the country.
It also later transpired that the grieving widow of one of the men Davis shot had taken her own life.
With four deaths linked to the incident, the pressure on both countries mounted.
Davis became subject to widespread speculation in Pakistani media, with reports that he was a CIA spy on a mission, that he was somehow involved with America’s controversial drone program or that he was an assassin and the two men were his intended targets.
Such was the suspicion surrounding Davis’ role in Pakistan that he was interrogated several times by agents of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA.
Davis’ background and training helped him get through the interrogations but his history also led many to come up with wild conclusions.
Born in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Davis spent ten years in the US Army, first as an infantryman before joining the special forces for the last six.
But after sustaining an injury to his right lung during special forces training that got worse as the years past, he was discharged from the Army in 2003 before joining the private sector.
‘I wanted to do more for the war on terror so I joined up as a contractor, a group of guys with a special skill set that’s needed in war zones,’ he explains.
Davis worked as a private contractor providing operational security in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
His work took him to Lahore in 2011 where he provided protection for CIA operatives and political figures.
But now he was a prisoner – held at a military police training college and watched by four guards wielding AK47 machine guns.
His future looked bleak.
‘You don’t allow your mind to think about how long it will be before you get out, you live day to day, moment to moment,’ says Davis.
‘You always hope every time for that couple of hours that the embassy personnel shows up that they’re going to put you in the car and take you with them.
Inspiration: The first episode of Homeland’s fourth season was partly inspired by what happened to Davis, with a CIA operative dragged from a car by a baying mob
‘There’s always hope but you can never be disappointed when they leave without you.’
Davis had pinned his hopes that the staff at the US Consulate, who were working tirelessly to get him out, would have him released in a matter of days.
But after two weeks and another court hearing he was placed on physical remand and thrown into Lahore’s tough Kot Lakhpat jail.
The notorious jail is rammed with more than four times its 4,000-prisoner capacity and it has a reputation for its brutal regime, murders and beatings, especially mistreatment of Indian prisoners held there.
Davis says because he was a high profile prisoner the Pakistani authorities gave him a whole wing of the prison to himself.
But while he says he wasn’t physically harmed during his incarceration, he was ‘tortured’ – by the definition of the term – in several other ways.
Sleep deprivation was the worst, with guards keeping the lights on 24/7 and the Islamic call to prayer pumping out through a loud speaker all day long.
Davis says the cell was basic and he was fed chicken curry every day, twice a day, which in itself he found tortuous.
There was no hot water or heating, leaving him freezing on the cold winter nights.
The guards also played mind games with Davis, depriving him of items he had been given just to exert their power and mess with his head.
‘All of these things you could say was torture, but I was never beaten,’ says Davis.
‘I think because of my having a diplomatic passport I think if they did put their hands on me it wouldn’t look good for either government.
‘But if that’s what hell looks like I’m not going back.’
The experience began to weigh on Davis’ mental health.
He said: ‘Initially my mindset was this is easier than I thought, but when they put you in a jail cell, the closing of the door echoes. You’ve lost your liberty, you can’t leave.’
Davis said he even began talking with small animals that would wonder into his cell.
‘Two birds would come in, I called them my snowbirds and they would visit and fly around the room. I called them Margaret and George.
‘I also had a lizard, Larry the lizard, who would show up and we’d chat a little bit.
‘I wouldn’t say I was going insane but with no one else there it was my way of coping.’
Towards the end the strain began to show.
Sick of the power struggle with the guards who would constantly toy with Davis, he went on a three-day hunger strike.
He explained: ‘The game was that they wanted to show me that they controlled everything about me, ‘You are owned by us’.
Hanged in effigy: Mobs of Pakistanis inspired by an Islamic political party protested throughout the 49-day crisis, including this demonstration outside what they believed to be a U.S. government building in Karachi
‘I went on hunger strike, I wanted to show them that I didn’t need anything from them, that they couldn’t control me.’
Consulate staff eventually persuaded Davis to eat again.
‘Emotionally there was ups and downs that are hard to describe,’ he says.
‘You think through all of your training if this happens I’m going to do this and I’ll make it, but it gets very cloudy in your mind if you’re going to come through all that unscathed, it’s very difficult the amount of stress that is put on you.’
Asked whether he missed his son while in jail, Davis’ tough exterior begins to crack and his eyes well up.
The thought of not seeing his wife Rebecca and son Braeden for years burdened him.
‘The hardest thing to hear was that I was going to be charged with murder,’ he said.
‘Now I’m charged with a crime all of a sudden they start saying he’s not leaving, he’s here, we’ve already convicted him and now I’m here for five, 10, 15, 20 years and I’ll never see my son grow up. That was the hardest thing to hear.
‘There’s a point in time that you’re sat there in the jail cell and the walls are closing in and you’re thinking, ‘I’m never going to get out of here, my country has turned its back on me and I’m never going to see my son again’.
‘My dad died when I was young I was 14. It starts to pull at you and it has you really hard.’
Unknown to Davis lawyers, working behind the scenes for the US Government had come up with a contingency plan to get him out.
They pushed the court to try his case under Islamic sharia law – Pakistan’s criminal law is similar to that of the United States but regular courts can pass their cases to sharia ones – and Davis was to plead guilty to the double murder.
Davis has recounted his experience in his book The Contractor which is available for pre-order on Amazon.com
‘My initial thought was, ‘Oh no, sharia law, I’m going to get stoned, killed, beheaded, they already have a court outside – a tree waiting,’ recalls Davis.
‘All of these things were running through my head until it was all explained.’
The plan was to pay the families of the victims blood-money – known as Diyya under Islamic law.
This didn’t sit well with Davis though.
‘My attorney ran up to me and said, ‘They’re going to accept blood money – we’re going to get you out of here today’.
‘And he leaves – I was shocked. I thought, ‘What does that mean, I don’t understand.’
‘There was a bit of anger because I did nothing wrong, all I did was defend myself but we’re going to pay money to these people – we shouldn’t have to, I did nothing wrong.
‘But Carmela Conroy (US Consul General) turned to me and said, ‘There is no other way, the solution is bigger than anyone in this room, it’s at the presidential level.’
‘It needed to be taken care of so everyone saves face so that a diplomat was not charged with a crime that he shouldn’t have been.’
A sum of $2.4million was paid and distributed to the families of the dead, although the US Government later denied it had paid anything.
It later emerged that the Pakistanis had covered the cost only to retrieve the money later.
After 49 days Davis was released.
‘When they finally told me I was going home, I broke down in tears, I was so relieved this ordeal was soon going to be over,’ he says.
‘The tears were also out of gratitude for all the hard work that everyone did to get me out and it was also because I knew I was going home to see my son and my family.’
Davis believes his release was in part because the US Government had their sights on killing Al-Qaeda boss Osama Bin Laden and didn’t want his situation to in any way disrupt the secret mission they had planned.
Bin Laden was killed two months after Davis’ release in a raid by SEAL Team Six in a CIA-led operation on the 9/11 mastermind’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
‘There was too much at stake,’ says Davis.
‘I also believe the US Government didn’t want to lose face, simple as that.’
When the dust settled Davis learned a lot of the hard work that had gone into getting him released.
But he was also told the higher-echelons of the State Department, run by Hillary Clinton at the time, had actually discussed disavowing him.
He said: ‘I heard that – and it was a hard pill to swallow. I was like ‘Did I just dodge a big bullet?’
‘It was mentioned by high-level people at the State Department, ‘Why don’t we just disavow him and say he’s not ours?’ I think Leon Panetta (the then Secretary of Defense) had the hardest time with that. He was like, ‘He’s got a passport, he wasn’t over there doing nefarious things, we’re not going to disavow anybody, it doesn’t matter who he works for, if he worked for us we protect him.’
‘I thought it was very admirable to have someone who has no vested interest in you to take that stance. That was very comforting to know we had leadership that would do that. It reassured me a great deal.’
He added: ‘There are many things that happened behind the scenes that I have no idea about and probably never will.’
Davis thanks the many people involved in his release, and reserves special praise for former Consul General Carmella Conroy, who he describes as an ‘incredible person and diplomat.’
Davis said his return to America was an emotional time.
‘I think the best part was actually seeing my son Braeden and knowing that it’s finally real, I’m back with him,’ he recalls.
‘He didn’t know what was happening he was two-and-a-half years old. It was a good hug when I finally got to hold him in my arms, it was different than anything else I have to admit. It was pretty incredible.’
These days Davis lives a quiet life in Colorado Springs where he works as a firearms instructor, contracting for the US government.
He has separated from his wife Rebecca but they have joint custody of their son Braeden.
Davis has recounted his experience in his book The Contractor, but even that was hard fought.
The co-author of the book Storms Reback and Davis accuse the CIA of political bias by trying to stall it publication in case it damaged Hillary Clinton’s chances of reaching the White House in the November, 2016 election.
The CIA held the book manuscript for several months before demanding a swathe of redactions – even on information that is publicly available – pushing the publication of the book from September 2016 to March 2017 and then to June.
They also accuse the State Department – under Clinton’s rule – of withholding two key interviews carried out for the book, which almost prevented the memoir from being written at all.