Thursday, January 31, 2008

Heartbroken columnist doubts reports of son's murder

Here is a piece in the Boston Herald about the death of the U.S. diplomat who apparently committed suicide in Pakistan.

Heartbroken columnist doubts reports of son's murder

The devastated father of U.S. diplomat Keith Ryan described his son’s death in Pakistan as a “troubling mystery,” as new reports suggest he may have been murdered, after official reports indicated it was a suicide.

“Everyone is devastated. I am well aware of these reports and we are very concerned about that. (But) we have no reason at this time to doubt the official version,” said Bob Ryan, 61, a top Boston Globe sports columnist from Hingham.

U.S. officials said Keith Ryan, 37, a Homeland Security attache to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Monday morning, just hours before he was to fly home after a year in the troubled country.

But medical sources in Islamabad dismissed the suicide theory, telling Pakistani news agencies the bullet hit the back of Ryan’s head and was fired from several feet away.

“There is only an entry wound on the rear upper portion of his neck . . . there is no visible blackening of the entry wound (from gunpowder), indicating that the shot was fired from the distance of more than four feet,” the source at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences told The News of Pakistan.

Bob Ryan said of the contradictory reports, “It is disturbing, but understandable given the geopolitics of the area. We are looking for resolution, but we are a ways from that.”

Keith Ryan was a father of 8-year-old triplets, Conor, John and Amelia, who live with his wife Kate in Silver Spring, Md.

Bob Ryan described his son as an adventurous, strong, self-sufficient man.

“He was extremely buoyant, had a very lively personality. He was aggressive, strong, opinionated and humorous. He was always very sure of himself and that was true from an early age,” said Ryan.

“He always liked cops and robbers and was an extreme patriot so it was no surprise that he went into law and order and went to work for the government.”

Ryan said he wasn’t surprised his son ended up in one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

“I knew he’d end up in a hot spot,” said Ryan. “I was concerned about his safety every day. Islamabad got worse and worse, particularly after the Bhutto assassination. It was getting to the point where I thought, ‘Please, let’s get him out of there.’ ”

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