Funny how here in Pakistan, stories never die. Little by little, details trickle in, adding a new dimension to an already vague picture, sometimes leading to clarity, sometimes to more confusion. In the case of the erstwhile terrorist number one, Osama bin Laden, the latest statements by the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, are sure to get the conspiracy theorists chattering. Let’s add to the conspiracy then, shall we?
Mr defence secretary has acknowledged that intelligence from one Doctor Shakil Afridi, in the form of DNA samples collected under the guise of a polio campaign, were instrumental in confirming to the United States the presence of the much wanted Osama bin Laden. But how did Dr Afridi get the DNA samples required? After all, we have been told repeatedly that nobody came in or out from that compound, except a couple of people who were tasked with going into town for basic necessities as and when required. How then, did the good doctor manage? A theory going around is that the first few times, when the doctor approached the compound in question to offer vaccines for the preventions of polio, he was refused entry, being told that the drops could be administered without him. But what if there was another intelligence campaign underway in the region, about an outbreak of some other deadly disease which would require vaccination via injection? That, coupled with a few horrific stories in local newspapers about a new mystery disease affecting children in the region may have softened the compound to an extent that eventually, when Dr Shakil Afridi and his team approached the compound for a fifth time, they were given access to the children, not inside the compound, but outside the gates. And that’s all that was required. A separate syringe was employed for all the children and the minimal blood required for DNA sampling was duly kept. The next question is, of course, the DNA sampling, which is a lengthy and expensive process, surely unavailable in Abbottabad? If the Americans had indeed tasked Dr Afridi with collecting DNA samples, they must have also provided a facility nearby for the immediate investigation of any blood samples collected (whilst they are still fresh). So once Doc returned, the blood samples from the elusive compound must have immediately been put under the microscope, and as soon as the familial DNA matching were found, the battle plans must have indeed started being drawn. Whether this theory holds true or not, there is no denying the fact that immediately after the incident in Abbottabad, the first person picked up by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was indeed the good doctor Shakil Afridi, which is confirmation of his vital role in the lead up to the Osama bin Laden raid. After all, why would Leon Panetta go on to say that he is ‘very concerned’ about the doctor? It’s because he did for them what nobody could do in nine years. Find Osama.
The other important statement from the US defence secretary is that somebody must have known or, at least, questioned what was happening in that compound. With 18-foot-walls, it stood out in its neighbourhood. And apparently, Mr Panetta has also suggested that Pakistani Military helicopters had flown over the very same compound as well. Whatever the case may be, if nobody in Pakistan knew that Osama bin Laden was hiding here, then it’s a total intelligence failure and we are indeed inept. More likely, however, is that somebody knew, making us complicit in harbouring the world’s most wanted terrorist. And what does that make us?
A little more food for the conspirator’s thought: what’s the link between the chief of army staff’s visit to Abbottabad (and the compound), the rockets fired on Kakul and Leon Panetta’s statement?
After all, all these three events happened on consecutive days.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012.
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