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Another Mysterious American In Pakistan

More Fuel On The Fire

More Fuel On The Fire

As we've already noted, the arrest in Lahore of Raymond Davis, the U.S. security contractor recently revealed to have been working for the CIA, has triggered a huge ruckus in Pakistan and is creating major complications for the military and political relationship between Islamabad and Washington.

And now comes the news that the Pakistanis have arrested another American with ties to a U.S.-based security firm. The man's name is Aaron Mark DeHaven, and, according to a report by "The Guardian," he runs a company called Catalyst Services LLC. Here's how the company describes itself:

Our corporate training staff has led by [sic] individuals who been involved in some of the most significant events of the last 20 years, whether it was the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the US effort in Somalia, or the Global War on Terror, members of our management team have played some role in these and other major events. Our experience is a result of careers in the United States Military and the United States Department of Defense.

Founding members of Catalyst Services have more than 65 years of combined experience in austere environments. We have been engaged with the USG in efforts as US military members, Federal Agents and USG contractors. We know what it takes to be successful in even the most dangerous regions of the world.

The company's website provides contact numbers in West Virginia, Dubai, and Afghanistan (cell). There’s also a number in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the city where DeHaven was taken into custody – ostensibly for overstaying his visa, which expired at the end of December 2010. (No one at any of the numbers picked up when Outpost called.) One Indian report, citing officials in Peshawar, says that he's being detained "under suspicion of espionage" and that he's undergoing interrogation by intelligence officials.

One is inclined to wonder. Some of the reports describe DeHaven as a Pashto speaker and convert to Islam who married a woman from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area and has applied for Pakistani citizenship -- not exactly the sort of profile, if the details are accurate, that would endear him to U.S. government agencies. One account suggests that his company has provided security in Peshawar for visiting U.S. officials, which may well turn out to be true. But other aspects of the case certainly don't make him sound like a superspook. His business partner, a man named Hunter Obrikat, runs a furniture business that -- according to some of its past tweets -- imports things like "handwoven carpets straight from the tribes of Peshawar."

One thing's for sure: if DeHaven was a master spy, he couldn't have picked a worse place to hide. The Pakistani police say he's been living in a housing development called Falcon Complex, right in the middle of Peshawar's military cantonment. (Just to give you an idea, Falcon Complex is located between Army Flats and the Pakistan Army Signals Post.) So you're telling me that the ISI, Pakistan's powerful intelligence service, only just picked up on the fact that DeHaven was lurking around there? Not likely. What's more probable is that enflamed public opinion is goading the security services to prove that they aren't American stooges. DeHaven, one suspects, is the low-hanging fruit.

What's clear, of course, is that the rocky U.S.-Pakistani relationship really doesn't need any fresh scandals right now. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

-- with Alexis Zimberg