Police ID suspect in slain Afghan cab driver case

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2011 6:01 PM
Police ID suspect in slain Afghan cab driver case

San Diego police on Friday publicly identified the main suspect in last month's killing of an Afghan cab driver who friends and family say served as his country's central bank governor before being granted political asylum in the United States in the 1990s.

Officials initially described the case as a robbery-homicide but Sgt. Bryan Pendleton said Friday police have not determined a motive behind the Sept. 28 death of Mir Najibullah Sadat Sahou, 68, who was shot repeatedly outside his taxi cab shortly before midnight in the upscale suburb of La Jolla.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 28-year-old Ismael Raul Lopez, who faces murder charges in the fatal shooting. Pendleton gave no further details. It was not known if the two men knew each other prior to Sept. 28 or if Lopez had met Sahou by calling for a cab.

Sahou came to the United States in the late 1990s after fleeing civil war in Afghanistan, where he had worked as governor of the country's central bank, said Nabil Miskinyar, who owns an Irvine, California-based TV channel, where Sahou worked part time.

He said the French-trained economist became a self-employed taxi driver after failing to find work in his field.

Miskinyar said he believes his friend, Sahou, was the victim of a violent robbery and his death had nothing to do with his work at his station, Ariana Afghanistan International TV. Sahou produced a bimonthly talk show called "To Find the Truth" aired to Afghans living abroad and in Afghanistan.

The program focused on politics and the economy of Afghanistan and in his last program, he discussed the September 20 assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was trying to broker peace with the Taliban, Miskinyar said. Several Afghan officials have publicly accused Pakistan and its spy agency of supporting the militants who killed him. Pakistan has denied any involvement.

Sahou had served at the central bank under Rabbani in the 1990s, Miskinyar said.

Still Miskinyar said he does not believe Sahou was in any danger because of his past or his comments on the show. He said he was a "gentle man" who was objective in his approach.

"I don't see any political reason for that. I couldn't find and don't find a reason to murder him because of the opinions he expressed," he said. "He was not a very hard-hitting producer or speaker. His program was based on the reality in Afghanistan. We have others who work here who are much harder hitting than he was. He was a very gentle man, very smart and very professional in his speech about the economic and political situation of Afghanistan. I feel extremely bad this happened to him."

He added: "I miss him a lot."

Sahou was well-read and spoke several languages, Miskinyar said. He spent every minute he could with his nose in a book, often while waiting in his cab for the next customer.

Sahou's family did not immediately respond to phone messages requesting an interview by The Associated Press on Friday. He leaves behind a wife and four children.