PESHAWAR: Controversial Pakistani doctor and alleged CIA informant, Dr Shakil Afridi claimed in an interview to Fox News that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency regarded America as its “worst enemy” and that the incumbent government was cooperating with the US only to extract billions in aid.
“They [ISI officers] said ‘The Americans are our worst enemies, worse than the Indians,’” Afridi was quoted.
Speaking to the conservative American cable news channel from his cell in Peshawar Central Jail, Dr Afridi claimed that within the jail, the ISI maintained a regime of perpetual torture and brutal interrogation.
Dr Afridi also claimed the ISI was helping fund the Haqqani network, the North Waziristan-based militant group that was last week designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US.
Afridi claimed that before he was moved to Peshawar in May, 2012, he met Abdul Kayyum, the nephew of a Wazir tribe chief, who had been apprehended by the ISI for unclear reasons.
Kayyum allegedly told the doctor that three years earlier, his uncle, Khan Marjakee, had allegedly been instructed by the ISI to raise funds from the tribal community for the Haqqanis, which Marjakee then did.
“Without doubt, the Haqqanis are 100 per cent supported by the ISI,” Afridi was quoted by Fox News.
He claimed that the spy agency also manipulated inmates to stop them from talking to visiting US officials, especially CIA officers while militants who were arrested, were routinely released, free to return to Afghanistan provided they avoided the Americans.
“It is now indisputable that militancy in Pakistan is supported by the ISI […] Pakistan’s fight against militancy is bogus. It’s just to extract money from America,” Dr Afridi said, referring to the $23 billion Pakistan has received, mostly, in military aid since 9/11.
Helping CIA out of love for USA
Dr Afridi, who had allegedly helped the CIA to inadvertently find Osama bin Laden, told Fox News that an ISI report which allegedly carried a confession about his role in the programme, was false and claimed he never admitted to such charges, even under the threat of torture.
“I was told stories about what to say as statements and forced to write statements,” he claimed. “When I refused, the major said, ‘When we give you pain, then you will write.’”
Afridi, who was described as ‘reluctant’ by the report to gave details about how he become involved with the CIA or the vaccination drive, claimed he was never aware the CIA was closing in on the al Qaeda leader, but admitted he knew the work he was doing was for Americans.
“I didn’t know about a specific target apart from the work I was given to do,” he said. “The house was famous for its name, Waziristan House. I was aware that some terrorists were residing in that compound, but I didn’t know whom. I was shocked. I didn’t believe I was associated in his killing.”
Fox News further quoted Afridi as saying that “I have a lot of respect and love for your people,” before adding that he was “proud to work with” the CIA.
Dr Afridi claimed that after his work had been completed, his CIA handlers had advised him to flee to Afghanistan, where he and his family would be taken care of but he said he refused, pointing towards an earlier kidnapping in the tribal region had scared him too much travel through that region again, deciding instead to stay. He further claimed that since he didn’t feel that he was involved in the raid, he deemed it unnecessary to escape.
Arabs given ‘first class treatments’
The doctor spoke about alleged torture of white Western male converts to Islam, who were apprehended while traveling to Afghanistan to fight against Nato troops or be trained in militant camps in the region’s tribal belt. While there were militants of different nationalities, Apbara detention facility, Arab detainees were given “first-class treatment and first-class food,” while some radicalised Westerners were singled out for abuse.
“The militants were told by the ISI, ‘According to the Americans, we’re supposed to arrest you. We don’t want anything to do with you, but will support you by letting you go. Go back to Afghanistan and steer clear of the Americans.’ And then they would be released.”
In his alleged account of an ISI prison, one in the basement of an ISI office in Islamabad, Dr Afridi claimed there were a number of ‘white’ Westerners, with their nationalities ranging from American, British, Dutch, and German, who all had come to Pakistan to train and participate in a jihad against NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Regime of torture
Dr Afridi, who has been detained for over 12 months before he was sentenced by a tribal court for facilitating a banned orgranisation, claimed the ISI maintained a regime of torture in its detention centres.
He claimed that he too had been tortured with cigarette butts and electric shocks.
Talking about his detention by the ISI on May 23 in Hayatabad, Dr Afridi claimed, “my clothes were removed and I was forced by a major to wear old dirty torn rags of an army conductor. It was difficult to eat food. I had to bend down on my knees to eat with only my mouth, like a dog. I sat on the floor.”
The alleged maltreatment, being bound and blindfolded for eight months, he claims eventually affected his eyesight and limbs.
After torture, ISI also looted Afridi
Dr Afridi claims the ISI has “looted” his bank account of millions of rupees.
“My bank account was looted [by the ISI while being held], making me bankrupt. I need financial, legal and diplomatic help,” Afridi claimed. “My situation is very grim. I earned millions of rupees (tens of thousands of dollars) a year and supported my family and that of my brother. All of that is lost.”
Since Afridi’s arrest, the family collectively has allegedly suffered $160,000 in lost income, legal fees and living costs, an entire life’s fortune by Pakistani standards, he estimated.
The report ended by saying Dr Afridi is held in a cell guarded by two commandos. He has available in his cell a washroom, a bed and a gas burner for cooking food. His family visits often, bringing him food and other supplies, though they have to bribe prison officials to get the items through.