Who is Francesca Marino – the Italian Journalist who gave eyewitness accounts of Indian Air Strike on Balakot?

Last updated on Aug 16, 2019

Posted on Mar 3, 2019

Francesca Marino is the one who has given the eyewitness accounts from Balakot about the impact there.  These were based on her communications with her contacts there in Pakistan who were there at the scene.

In her article she says that she had had encrypted communications with them.

Many Pakistanis and their apologists in India have been trying to belittle her work and her investigative journalism. For example this “Deputy Director” of a Pakistani think tank in UK interestingly called “Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism” (ITCT) tries to question her antecedents.

So, it is important to know who she really is.  And let us start with her interview with Lashkar-e-Taiyabba or Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, Hafiz Saeed.

This interview was done in 2012, when Hafiz Saeed was one of the most wanted man in United States along with Mullah Omar and after Al Zawahiri.  In fact, she had written in January 2012 about how Hafiz Saeed had already created what was known as “Difa-e-Pakistan” – an umbrella organization of Pakistani Jehadi groups.  This is how she had described it.

While the institutions were busy talking loudly against each other and the attention of national and international public opinion was concentrated on the Memogate, a new political organization was born, capable of taking to the streets every time 30-40,000 people: the Difa-e-Pakistan, the Council for the defense of Pakistan. The organization, invented by the head of the Jamaat-u-Dawa (JuD) Mohammed Hafiz Saeed, brings together forty of Islamic parties, real terrorist groups and fundamentalist organizations. Under its umbrella lie the same JuD, the Lashkar-i-Toiba, the Jamaat-i-Islami, the Jamiaat-ul-Islamia Fazlur and other more or less disturbing acronyms. At the helm, in addition to Hafiz Saeed, the former head of ISI Hamid Gul, the Maulvi Sami-u-Haq head of the Jamiat Ulema-I Islam (organization of orientation Deobandi known for its ties with the Taliban), Liaqat Baloch.

She went through a middleman of JuD and did the interview with Hafiz Saeed in Lahore.  Something quite gutsy of a European journalist to be doing in Pakistan, specially a lady (given the mindset of the Jehadis).

Interestingly, she is now being trolled by the Jamaat-ud-Daawa spokesperson for the legitimacy of that interview, because her account of what happened in the Indian air strikes has made her a target of the ISI trolls and ISI itself.

Francesca Marino

But that is not the only thing she had done.  Someone who is fluent in Urdu, she has done many amazing investigative journalistic assignments.  For example, she has:

  • Exposed the funding of Khalistanis by Pakistan through their networks
  • Money Laundering by Lashkar-e-Toibba via Southern Italy for the 26/11 attack
  • Participated in several events and is close the the Baloch leaders like Mehran Baloch, because of which she was black-listed and even jailed in Pakistan

She has also written a book on the history of Pakistan’s troubled and schizophrenic relationship with United States.  In view of what happened during the whole Osama Bin Laden episode and the Raymond Davis fiasco, she asks the basic question – How did they reach this point and how could they, for more than a decade, pretend to be fighting the same enemy together?

Unfortunately, in India, there are no journalists who are as accomplished in investigative journalism as her and nor have they tried to share her work with the Indian public.  What they always have is nothing but stereotypical caricatures which they can peddle easily.

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