US ran fake vaccine project in Pakistan to hunt for Bin Laden: Report

Published: July 12, 2011
A policeman is seen  keeps guard outside the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad May 3, 2011.  Pakistani intelligence agency has arrested up to 40 people believed to have been working with the CIA. PHOTO: REUTERS

A policeman is seen keeps guard outside the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad May 3, 2011. Pakistani intelligence agency has arrested up to 40 people believed to have been working with the CIA. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON: US intelligence launched a fake vaccination drive in the Pakistan town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an effort to gather DNA from members of his family, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

CIA officials recruited a senior local doctor to organise the campaign after it tracked down a bin Laden courier to what turned out to be the al Qaeda fugitive’s compound in the town of Abbottabad, the British newspaper said.

Before launching the high-risk operation against bin Laden, US officials wanted to test DNA samples from people living at the compound with a sample that they had from his sister.

Doctor Shakil Afridi, who has since been arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, launched the programme in Abbottabad’s poorest area to make it appear more credible.

The project then moved swiftly to the Bilal Town suburb, where bin Laden was residing.

“The whole thing was totally irregular,” a Pakistani official told the newspaper. “Bilal Town is a well-to-do area. Why would you choose that place to give free vaccines?”

A nurse managed to gain access to the compound but Pakistani sources claim she failed to obtain any DNA samples, the Guardian reported.

Bin Laden was killed on May 2 in a raid that soured US-Pakistan relations.

The Pakistani military on Monday insisted it was capable of fighting militants without US assistance, hitting back after Washington said it would suspend $800 million worth of security aid.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Yousaf
    Jul 12, 2011 - 10:07AM

    This is extremely disgusting and shameful. To complete a mission, CIA don’t care even of our children and civilians. They just want the job done…but ultimately this is done by Pakistanis for the sake of money. I really wish that Pakistani justice should work here and handover a sever punishment for that doctor and associates, even hang him to death by putting the life of thousands of Pakistanis in danger.

    Army: Please don’t let this Doctor go.. I am very much afraid for my children’s future.


  • Mirza
    Jul 12, 2011 - 10:25AM

    ISI failed in both its legal and illegal operations. They fail to protect Pakistanis from the terrorists at the same time they even failed to protect OBL. Now that their strategic assets are liquidated they are torturing the innocent doctor and others who helped the world by getting rid of the biggest terrorist.


  • Adnan
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:13AM

    Thats very smart.


  • Amer
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:15AM

    Now people would be vary of vaccination drives etc. It’s pathetic how CIA was allowed to run it’s operations with free hand in Pakistan. The ISI should have been doing the same work that the CIA did inside Pak territory to get OBL and now there are too many unanswered questions. We love our security force but this whole episode has been a shame to say the least!


  • Ali
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:34AM

    No wonder.


  • Saad Warraich
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:37AM

    @Mirza: I think for one failure does not give us the right to exaggerate things out of proportion. Had the Americans had a free run in Pakistan, they would not have let the opportunity slip to colonize us.

    Guys get a life…. every here seems to be becoming the prophet of doomsday.


  • Shafqat Ali Khan
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:44AM

    Good but failed effort to reach OBL. Poor CIA spent another millions of dollars to have DNA test of his family members……………………..


  • ba ha
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:51AM

    Anything ca be expected from snake like USA


  • Ahsan
    Jul 12, 2011 - 12:25PM

    @Yousaf: Dear the project was fake… the vaccines werent :P


  • Jul 12, 2011 - 12:33PM

    Every day they are coming with new drama, i don’t believe them any more.


  • Mirza
    Jul 12, 2011 - 12:46PM

    I understand your anger, for using the kids as test subjects of fake vaccine. However, the vaccine was not fake, the campaign was fake, because its primary purpose was to get access to the compound before the attack so innocent people do not die. The right vaccine was given to the kids who received it. The only people who were targeted for the DNA samples were in the safe house. Even there they were not giving fake medicine as vaccine. Their aim was to save the syringe used on the children in the compound, and then test it for OBL’s family DNA. I would be upset too if the fake vaccine were given to children. Using vaccine campaign for their own benefit is the same thing as mullah using Islam for their own interests. That does not make the religion fake, does it?
    Thanks and regards,


  • Zulfiqar Haider
    Jul 12, 2011 - 4:20PM

    Well! We surely are short of funds, particularly for this war that we are fighting. However, this is our own war and we can’t withdraw from the border so easily; there will surely be repercussions.


  • Yousaf
    Jul 12, 2011 - 5:17PM

    @Mirza & Ahsan!

    Ok, even if the vaccines were not fake, now this is extremely wrong example set by the doctor and the team. Only government should carry out such campaigns related to general public or with an NOC from the government.


  • let there be peace
    Jul 12, 2011 - 7:12PM

    If this is true it is gross misconduct by Americans. This may affect genuine vaccination work in many poor countries where already mullahs are proving obstacles for vaccination programs with their ‘secret plan to sterilize muslims’ conspiracy theories. If this is false propaganda by Pak Army/ISI it is still a gross misconduct for the same reasons.


  • Giri
    Jul 12, 2011 - 11:33PM

    If they would have just bombed the compound and there by killed some innocents, then they were doomed. If they conducted vaccine operation to find out who was living and took a daring operation to kill only OBL and his hench men, they are also doomed as to how they could enter a so called sovereign country. If they just pass information to ISI to arrest/kill OBL then, he would have surely escaped as was earlier. Damned if they bombed, damned if they conducted secret operation. This is the result you get when you forge a relationship with an ungreatful country. Chinese communists would be happy to have friendhip with Pak, as they know how to screw and at the sametime how to shut the mouth.


  • Cautious
    Jul 13, 2011 - 6:35AM

    Very creative — might have worked — sure beats sitting around doing nothing or in Pakistan’s case hiding the culprit.


  • Jul 14, 2011 - 8:53AM

    CIA can do with vaccines what Raymond Davis cannot do with guns.


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