To the lengthy list of "nations in which it is terribly dangerous to be a good journalist" you can add "Pakistan," if you haven't already. The NYT reports that Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, ordered the assassination of a journalist whose reporting detailed how Pakistan's military was being infiltrated by Islamist extremists.

Saleem Shahzad, a contributor to the Asia Times Online, was no slouch; despite being kidnapped by the Taliban in 2006, he continued to report on the work of terror groups including Al-Qaeda. disappeared after leaving his home in Islamabad in late May. Two days later, his dead body, with "a serious trauma wound to the stomach," was found on the bank of a canal 80 miles outside of the city. The ISI was an immediate suspect in his abduction and death. Now, the NYT says, US intelligence believes they killed Shahzad.

The intelligence, which several administration officials said they believed was reliable and conclusive, showed that the actions of the ISI, as it is known, were "barbaric and unacceptable," one of the [American] officials said...
"Every indication is that this was a deliberate, targeted killing that was most likely meant to send shock waves through Pakistan's journalist community and civil society," said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the information.

Shahzad was reportedly beaten to death with a blunt instrument. That nation again is Pakistan, close U.S. ally in the War on Terror.

[NYT. Photo: AP]