Armed US Diplomats Detained at Peshawar Toll Booth: What Was Mission?

Google map showing Malakand University (missing "A" label at top right), Chamkani Police Station (B) and Bara (C). Driving time from Malakand University to Chamkani Police Station is given as about two and a half hours, while it is only a half hour to Bara from the police station.

The Raymond Davis incident in Lahore, Pakistan raised the issue of people moving within Pakistan under US diplomatic cover while heavily armed. Davis, who in fact worked for the CIA, had a number of weapons in his possession (see here for photos) when he was arrested for killing two men. A third man was killed by a consular vehicle rushing to the scene of the shooting. That issue arose again yesterday, when two vehicles transporting US “diplomats” were stopped at a toll plaza outside Peshawar and multiple weapons were seized:

Four US diplomats and their three Pakistani employees were arrested and shifted to the nearby Chamkani police station.

An FIR was registered against the three Pakistanis under Section 13 of the Arms Ordinance, while the US diplomats were released after hours-long negotiations between SP Shafeeullah Khan and US Consul General in Peshawar Marie Richard.

The police intercepted two bullet-proof vehicles of the US consulate on the motorway in Peshawar and found four pistols, four SMG rifles and several ammunition magazines in their possession, Chamkani police station’s SHO Haji Inayatullah told The Express Tribune.


Inayatullah identified the four diplomats as Vincent Capodicci, Timothy Daniel, Leon Carter and Daryal Lee Groom. The arrested Pakistanis were security in-charge Manzoor and drivers Ihsan Khan and Asif Khan.

The Chamkani Police Station is on the eastern outskirts of Peshawar. It is very hard to understand the stated destination the diplomats had visited. From Dawn:

Police said the Americans were taken into custody along with their vehicles during examination on a Motorway checkpost when they were on their way to Peshawar from Malakand University.

Malakand University is quite small and moderately isolated. It is hard to understand why diplomats would be visiting there. The “nearby” Chamkani Police Station where the diplomats were taken from the toll plaza area is on the most direct route back into Peshawar from Malakand University, which is to the north and east.

Dawn and the Express Tribune differ on both the number of and names of the diplomats detained. The list of four names above is from the Express Tribune, while Dawn claims only two were detained, “Daniel and Levan”. The “Levan” name does not appear in the Express Tribune list of names, which does include “Timothy Daniel”. Taken together then, the two articles implicate anywhere between two and five Americans being in the vehicles.

If we assume that the University is just a cover location, then what was the real purpose of the trip? Two possibilities come to mind in light of recent events. Read more