Pakistan sacks doctor who helped track bin Laden

PESHAWAR: Pakistan on Thursday sacked a government surgeon recruited by the CIA to help track Al-Qaeda terror leader Osama bin Laden, officials said.


Doctor Shakeel Afridi was sacked on disciplinary grounds by the government in northwest province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where bin Laden was killed during a clandestine US raid last May that humiliated Pakistan.


“The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has issued a notification of dismissal of Dr Shakeel Afridi,” provincial health secretary Ashfaq Khan told AFP.


Seventeen other medics who worked on the same fake vaccination programme set up by the CIA in a bid to confirm bin Laden was living in the city of Abbottabad have already been sacked, he added.


Fifteen women health workers were dismissed last August, and a woman doctor and an assistant coordinator were sacked on March 17, Khan told AFP.


Afridi, who worked for years as a government surgeon in the lawless tribal district of Khyber, is in Pakistani custody. A panel investigating the bin Laden raid has recommended that he be put on trial for treason.


Pakistani officials believe Afridi may have known about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad and shared the information with US intelligence agents.


British newspaper The Guardian reported last July that Afridi set up a fake vaccination programme in the hope of obtaining DNA samples from the house where the CIA suspected bin Laden was living.


The United States was not 100 per cent sure that the Al-Qaeda chief was living in the Abbottabad house when President Barack Obama gave the approval for Navy SEALs to raid the compound on May 2.


The Guardian said the doctor had been recruited by the CIA for an elaborate scheme to vaccinate residents for hepatitis B, a ploy to get a DNA sample from those living in the house to see if they were bin Laden family members.



About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.