Bin Laden ‘informer’: Panetta concerned about CIA-backed doctor

Published: January 28, 2012
'I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound.' PHOTO: REUTERS

'I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound.' PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has expressed concern about Pakistan’s treatment of a doctor who helped the United States find former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has been under arrest for months now and the Abbottabad inquiry commission earlier suggested that a treason case should be registered against him.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, due to be aired on Sunday,  Panetta acknowledged that Afridi, a doctor in Abbottabad, the town where Bin Laden was found, had in fact been working for US intelligence, collecting DNA to verify the 9/11 mastermind’s presence.

“I’m very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual … who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation,” Panetta said, according to excerpts of the interview.

“He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan,” the defense secretary said. “Pakistan and the United States have a common cause here against terrorism … and for them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part.”

The defense secretary didn’t stop just there. He went on to add that he still believed someone in authority in Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was hiding before US forces went in to find him.

Intelligence reports found that Pakistani military helicopters had passed over the compound in Abbottabad, according to the interview.

“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound,” Panetta said. “Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls … It was the largest compound in the area.

“So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’” Panetta told CBS.

The Pentagon chief said this concern contributed to Washington’s decision not to give Pakistan advance warning of the impending raid.

“It concerned us that if we in fact brought (Pakistan) into it, that – they might … give bin Laden a heads-up,” he said.

However, Panetta acknowledged he did not have “hard evidence” that Pakistan knew of the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (67)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Being a Pakistani citizen, Shakeel Afridi was suppose to help Government of Pakistan and not the US intelligence.

    Had he informed OBL presence in the compound, he would have been given the highest award by the Pakistani government, but instead of diverting the information, he helped a foreign government which has created an embarrassment for Government of Pakistan.

    I would like to ask one question to US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, does he expect an American National to leak out information to Government of Pakistan?


  • Whatever
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:38AM

    Seems like the frustration over the continuing blocked NATO supplies is now brimming to the surface. US please try to hold still and not mess up further, it hasn’t helped you in the past and it’s not going to help you in the future. You need us as much as we need you so stop treating us like your slaves and ordering us about!!!!


  • rohool
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:42AM

    good job Panetta. we were expecting this to be asked from Pak government.


  • Basit
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:43AM

    Today this Shakeel Afridi helped CIA with OBL, tomorrow he might have helped CIA with finding our nukes or conducting terror attacks. Such people can never be trusted and deserve the full force of the law.


  • adeel759
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:52AM

    There is no way, someone did not know.


  • Mirza
    Jan 28, 2012 - 10:54AM

    This custom fortress was not built by accident. Not a single army or civilian leader of Pakistan has contradicted the US claims.


  • American Muse
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:04AM

    Why didn’t the American’s get Dr. Afridi to skip town (and country) before the raid?


  • Pak Centcom
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:06AM

    I believe Mr. Phonetta is correct in his mind, but his mind is confined to himself only, and is full of subjective data that lacks factual integrity and social acceptance amongst the humanitarian and culture loving American people that love Pakistan.


  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:10AM

    How humble now US is so caring for one Pakistani…What are for those Pakistanis who have killed innocently in this so Called War On Terror..They are just making sure that their agents never caught up. That doctor is a CIA agent..


  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:21AM

    What if a Pakistani spy is searching in US for criminal wanted in Pakistan??


  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:23AM

    Now OBL is dead what else do you want??? i think nukes.


  • Noor
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:32AM

    We should kick Afridi butt for selling his country and working for the enemy. Recommend

  • Shahid Malik
    Jan 28, 2012 - 11:50AM

    Panetta is right to the extent that somebody in Pakistan knew about it. Surely, Kayani & Pasha must have known about OBL’s presence. And we know, our Generals do not share sensitive information with civilian government.
    As far as Afridi is concerned, he is a traitor and should be treated like one.


  • Hafeez
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:01PM

    In my opinion, there is a big paradox. Getting OBL was a good job, but then treason is something unacceptable. The real question is, whether the benefit of getting rid of OBL outweighs the treason committed by Dr Shakeel? Another more important question is, will there be anyone held responsible for providing refuge to OBL? And then will someone will be held responsible for sleeping at the time when he should be awake guarding our territory?


  • Jan 28, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Mr. Panetta! What does America do with its S-P-I-E-S? Life imprisonment? Wholesale degradation in the print and electronic media? talk shows, articles, Top of the news, etc. It goes on for months without any end.

    Shakeel Afridi deserved what he got. If you were so concerned of your kindred, what was he doing in Pakistan when he should have been basking in your garden? Salams to Pakistan Recommend

  • Bakir
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:15PM

    Instead of telling the government about OBL presence he sold the information to CIA as they were the highest bidders for the info, he got lot of cash for the info but he cant spend it now, he brought disgrace to all pakistanis and now the whole international community thinks that every pakistani is an OBL supporter. Why should pakistani government show slightest of mercy for this traitor. Recommend

  • maiden
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:35PM

    @All commenters:

    You are all actually accepting that Osama bin Laden was actually found and killed in the May 2 raid.. Haha.. Well done America.. Your great lies and propoganda is reaching Pakistani minds well done chaps.Recommend

    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:39PM

    Shakeel Afridi is NOT an AMERICAN CITIZEN & he is a CRIMINAL.Stop interfering in Pakistan’s affairsRecommend

  • ch. sheraz
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:42PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:

    Harsh reality is that our security institutions were protecting OBL and making people fool. Recommend

  • shazada zahid mahmoud loan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:42PM

    Mr Panetta is rather frustrated with the war they inflicted on the unfortunate people of Afghanistan with no legal justifications. The European Americans want to get out of this war, having little to show especially the Pakistani nukes, and are finding it hard. The Americans will not get out until we the Pakistanis let them and also until the last foreign soldier has left Afghanistan. The American wishfull thinking of keeping some troops on the ground in order to keep Pakistani nukes in sight is not possible – they will have to keep their eyes on the Israeli nukes in case they are used against the Gazans.Recommend

  • jai zardari
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:46PM

    the doctor gave Pakistan the right dose of medicine
    he helped get rid of OBL and saved Pakistan from US aggression
    he is a true patriot


  • Khadim
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:47PM

    We are equally concerned about treatment to Bradley Manning. Recommend

  • Shahid
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:52PM

    There are many more Dr. Afridi’s in Pakistan who sell their country for money and immigration visa. In any case such persons must be tried, convicted in shortest possible time so that justice is visible. Traitors, which Pakistan has many, either will then run to their fathers in India or elsewhere in the west or be executed. As far as Panetta is concerned, he is faithful to his country and doing his job well. It is the Pakistanis who should start doing something for their country. It is time now. Recommend

  • plaintalk
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:20PM

    How many more Shakil Afridis did Panetta recruit as CIA chief?


  • Karachiwalal
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:26PM

    I agree that people in Pakistan knew about OBL’s presence. It is impossible that OBL lived in Abbottabad without knowledge of the highest military personnel.


  • Eldorado
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:32PM

    Shakeel Afridi did break some Pakistani laws but definitively not a treason!!

    Did he sell Pakistani nuclear secret? Did he sell military secret. ?

    He helped catch a terrorist. Which Pakistani army/ISI was supposed to catch. He did help Pakistani common people/nation by breaking law.

    How is that a treason. ? Recommend

  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:36PM

    @Shahid Malik:
    Sorry if i offend you.. but some things you done or i have done.. our parents will never know.. Don’t they?? Think Guys


  • Uhuh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:41PM

    Mr Panetta, doing a great job creating more hostile sentiments among Pakistanis and squandering whatever little bit goodwill this country has towards Americans. You can’t get it together and track down Mullah Omar in Afghanistan and you are telling us how to do our job????


  • Ashraf P
    Jan 28, 2012 - 1:42PM

    Do you guys consider OBL as an asset of the country?


  • kamran
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:02PM

    What about the generals dhouldnt they be investigated for the failure.


  • Straight_Talk
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:03PM

    OBL was in Pakistan. He was put up in a palace-like building in Abbottabad. This is a fact that the whole world believes. Pakistanis though often doubt this sighting lack of evidence. Shakeel Afridi did a huge service to the world by helping find OBL. Pakistanis are however not happen. They consider him a traitor.

    All this says something more than the mere story that it is. Pakistanis should sit quietly and think what they are doing to themselves. Can they survive like a hated, isolated island for the next couple of decades ? And believe me this is not war. This is peaceful neglect. The nuclear bombs will not help here.


  • MK
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:06PM

    If a doctor could know about OBL why not ISI? the most wanted and most publicised , more than six fts man is hiding in a 18 fts wall in a garrission city for half a decade and the defender of Pak does not know anything about it? Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:07PM

    The comments of the ex intelligence chief are so less intelligent and it seems like the only hard evidence they have is their self belief systems and the tall walls of the compound. There is more compelling evidence against the US establishment with scientific reasoning alone that confirms its involvement in the 9/11 drama. What is wrong with the world that allows them to speak their minds unquestioned?Recommend

  • ZKhan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:17PM

    Instead crying about the surface value of his statement pertaining to Afridi, why not to address the core value that some top notch of Pakistan knew the whereabpouts of OBL in Abbottabad. Surveillance by military helicopters of the fortress building point out who knew OBL presence in Pakistan. In fact complete jamming made it impossible for the Pak Army to react. Later it was “AB KIA HOT JAB CHIRIAN CHUG GAIEEN KHAIT” Gen. Kiani and Gen Pasha both know the facts and they also know US forces gave a big slap on the cheek of Pak Army. Since country has no tradition of accountability as such nothing will ever come out. Specially in an incident where military brass is involved never expect any out come. This is a hard but tragic fact of Pakistan history. No accountability for removal of many ligitimate civil governments, separation of East wing and Kargil debacle all support this view point. CJ or his comerades will also never dare to unearth the facts of OBL case as their stay in Supreme Court is guranteed only on the condition not to poke their nose in military top brass matters.


  • sanjithmenon
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:48PM

    I think most Pakistanis believe that by closing their eyes, the world will go dark! how hypocritical can you get! Every commentator here forgets the deeds of OBL, and is saying, Had Dr.Afridi, known it he should have reported it to Pakistani authorities! The very reason, OBL was in that compound was thanks to very high ups in Pakistani establishment, how will then Dr. Afridi report to Pakistan Government itself!


  • Elhaan Khan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:48PM

    He did a great job to help Americans get him, those were traitors who were protecting that terrorist who killed more Pakistani than Americans.


  • Ali khan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 2:51PM

    Dr sakeel should be made an exampel by hanging him till deth so no one els should dar to
    trad his contry and soul we calld pakistan our mother land this trator should be hangd publicale
    its a highe treason case.


  • baljinder singh
    Jan 28, 2012 - 3:06PM

    Dr. Afridi is no. 1 contender for Noble peace prize


  • Pakistani
    Jan 28, 2012 - 3:15PM

    @ch sheraz: correction making americans a fool. I like it!!!!!!!


  • K B Kale
    Jan 28, 2012 - 3:50PM

    Pakistan as a nation ‘double-crossed’ USA, its sugardaddy of decades. Its President Musharraf double-crossed Bush from 2001-20090& made a fool of him . So what is the big deal if Dr Afridi double-crossed Pakistan? Pakistan deserved being double-crossed.


  • ishtiaer hussain
    Jan 28, 2012 - 3:54PM


    The person who sold Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya and brought bad name to Pakistan at the international level is now our National Hero. But the person who helped CIA track down the Al-Qaeda chief is a traitor. WHY DOUBLE STANDARDS, DEAR PAKISTANIS? Would somebody please answer my question?


  • Imran Mohammad
    Jan 28, 2012 - 3:54PM

    > “He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan,” the defense secretary said. “Pakistan and the United States have a common cause here against terrorism … and for them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part.”

    In the honor of renowned and typical American amnesia , may I present this:

    Mr. Panetta, may I ask why Jonathan Pollard is in jail? After all US-Israel have 99% common enemies !!! It is true double-speak and hypocrisy has no bounds.


  • Anon
    Jan 28, 2012 - 4:30PM

    @baljinder singh
    so is dawood ibrahim!


  • Beatle
    Jan 28, 2012 - 5:20PM

    Mind your own business Mr. Paneta. Shakeel is Pakistani citizen, accused of trachary and selling country’s interests for money. Let the law take its course.
    Your are perhaps forgetting the notoriuos Huantonamo prison and torture center. Or Aafia Siddiqui.


  • Gabriel khan
    Jan 28, 2012 - 6:27PM

    Americans are still trying to sell OBL propaganda just like 9/11 …………..keep trying


  • Vigilant
    Jan 28, 2012 - 6:48PM

    Poor guy…..may be he did all of that spying working in hope of GreenCard for him & his family but forgot that Americans are used betray…..& in spying game Assets are always scarified instead of handlers……


  • Mawali
    Jan 28, 2012 - 6:48PM

    You will find 50 perhaps or more houses just in Abbotabad that look like what these are calling a mansion or better yet a custom built fortress.Recommend

  • Liberalache
    Jan 28, 2012 - 6:59PM

    Some western media outlets are reporting that this guy was using a vaccination program he was running to assist the CIA in collecting DNA in Pakistan. It was part of a program that somehow was going to be used as an intelligence gathering operation. This is out and out treason! Secondly, now any vaccination program in Pakistan is going to run into problems because of this episode….he thought of nobody but himself and the dollars he was going to get from his American masters. He has caused damage on many levels. I have no sympathy for him whatsoever.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jan 28, 2012 - 7:11PM

    The only Pakistani who actually helped find OBL charged with treason – and you wonder why the World has a poor opinion of you?


  • Coolbreeze
    Jan 28, 2012 - 7:19PM

    How innocent, Mr Paneta (head of world lead Intelligence Agency) trying to justify act of a traitor who worked for Foreign Intelligence, for money. All Intelligence Agencies round the globe are primarily responsible to trace and act against such Individuals who work for foreign Agencies. How about a US citizen working for ISI inside America; US even couldn’t absorb justified cause of Mr Fai…


  • pakpinoy
    Jan 28, 2012 - 7:43PM

    Most Pakistanis didn’t believe (many still don’t) OBL even existed, much less 9/11 really occurred. And now they are making comments that this Doctor is a traitor?? For what?? — Exposing an “imaginary figure of the American govt’s creation??”

    But logic and reason don’t matter in this debate, so it’s useless to point out how ridiculous it all sounds!


  • American pakistani
    Jan 28, 2012 - 8:06PM

    Americans dont believe OBL was killed let alone in pakistan, saddam hussain was hanged and every one was shown his dead body, moammer gaddafi was seen dead and the most wanted man was executed without any pictures taken?? are you kidding me?? dude there is a limit to fabricated llies and baseless propagandas………….its time Obama stop cheap election compaign and fight upcoming election based on health reforms, improving economy, decreasing global instability and increasing jobs for suffering americans. The world had it with Americans presidents, earlier Mr bush was elected president for 8 years then they called him most stupid president of american history, now its Obamas turn i guess. Americans please dont choose presidents twice if they are stupid…………..


  • Raj - USA
    Jan 29, 2012 - 1:57AM

    @ishtiaer hussain:

    Do you really believe that AQ Khan sold the nuclear secrets alone? No, No, No !!!!!
    He was part of this proliferating team but it was the Generals who headed and organized it for their benefit. If you believe it was possible for Dr. Khan to do it alone when the nuclear program had always been under the control of the Establishment, how safe is the Bomb in Pakistan? This is the reason why Dr. Khan was never allowed to be interrogated by others and even Pakistan’s own Judiciary or Parliament did not start an investigation. Dr. Khan is in an undeclared ECL by the Establishment and cannot travel to any other country. He cannot even perform Haj Pilgrimage. However, Dr. Khan has already sent video and audio recordings of his side of the story to his daughter abroad and these secrets shall also come out one day. The country mortgaged itself to get the Bomb but the dishonest and selfish Generals sold it for their own profits and motives as if it is their personal property. In the end, Pakistan was placed in a different league than India and ended up not getting the nuclear technology from USA and others. India should be thankful for this proliferation by the Generals and AQ Khan as it has given India a permanent advantage over Pakistan and also closed its gap with China. Had this proliferation not taken place, India and Pakistan would have been in the same league and India also would not have got the Nuclear technology from USA and others. Also, the countries that it gave the Bomb may one day become the enemies of Pakistan. Frictions with Iran has already started. Saudis are also not happy that Pakistan proliferated nuclear knowhow to Iran. If North and South Korea unites, China may also feel the heat.


  • Nand
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:11AM

    @pakpinoy: The world also does not believe in the existance of TTP. So who is doing all the killings? Aliens?.


  • Rafique
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:14AM

    This treason charge seems very strange. It is not unheard of for people to help others track down their children in foreign lands that their spouse ran off to. Does that mean any person in a foreign country who helps that foreign spouse is suddenly treasonous and should be executed? This sounds ludicrous to me. How is helping track down Bin Laden treasonous? He is not even a Pakistan citizen! This backwards logic is beyond comprehension.


  • Raj - USA
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:20AM

    @American pakistani:

    I totally agree with you that OBL was not killed. Remember he is a Shaeed and Shaeeds do not die. They live forever. Religious parties in Pakistan that performed religious rites on his death are so fools. It is unfortunate that DNA tests cannot be carried out on OBL’s children found at the Abbottabad compound as Dr. Afridi cannot help. Also, as you said, Americans do not believe OBL was killed. Just a few thousands, came out in the middle of the night to the streets to celebrate as soon as this this imaginary event was broadcast on the news channels across the globe as they had no electricity or gas in their homes and it was better to be outside to chill out that hot summer day.
    By the way, take good care of Zawahiri in FATA and Mulla Omar in Quetta. US elections are coming in November and Obama needs help with some good propaganda by this summer.


  • Ivan
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:24AM

    “Had he informed OBL presence in the compound, he would have been given the highest award by the Pakistani government,”

    And one more award to Pasha for spiriting OBL out of Pakistan..

    Guys, let us face it, No one in the world trust the deep state and Pakistani political clowns are castrated.


  • Rafique
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:36AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    I think we are making some big assumptions here. First off this doctor probably did not even know that the person they were looking for was Osama (why would they tip him off to this info and risk having him warn somebody). Secondly how do we know the CIA went up to him directly (another risk of having him warn somebody). I’m sure there were American Pakistanis who played the middlemen giving him some made up story to trick him into doing it. Maybe they told him some rich pakistani had his children kidnapped and they needed him to verify they were in there and they would pay him good money to do it. Lastly how could he be charged with treason if Osama is not even a Pakistani citizen? It’s not like he helped in the assassination of a Pakistan citizen. I think this doctor was clueless and tricked.


  • Rafique
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:54AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    According to this logic if someone was told an Indian national who has suspected of murdering hundreds of Pakistanis was secretly hiding in a walled compound in Karachi and the government needed his help determining if it was truly him the person should refuse to help for fear of execution due to treason. I’m sure every one of us would jump at the chance to help and treason would be the last thing to cross our minds. In the end the Indian gets killed by some Indian hit squad (not Pakistani) and suddenly we are charged with treason.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Jan 29, 2012 - 3:29AM

    No doubt Shakeel Afridi is much hated in Pakistan for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. He has a buddy in the U.S, who shares the same fate: Private Bradley Manning, who is facing 22 charges of distributing government secrets to anti-secrecy site Wikileaks. Both Afridi and Manning are seen as No. one – public enemies in their countries. Manning could face death penalty if convicted.


  • Harry Stone
    Jan 29, 2012 - 7:03AM

    @American pakistani:

    An a lot of Americans don’t beleive Elvis is dead either. He is driving a cab in downtown Houston.


  • American pakistani
    Jan 29, 2012 - 5:24PM

    @Harry Stone:
    @Raj – USA
    americans landed on the moon as well, 9/11 was conducted by alqaeda and they parked thier cars outside the airports with thier ID’s inside so they can be identified easily later on, the hijackers learnt to fly sesnas and then flew jumbo jets into the towers at a sharp angle and so on and so forth, lot of things americans believe in so based on above OBL and all the others are in pakistan and pakistan would certainly help obama in coming election, after all we are allys arnt we?


  • Arshad
    Jan 29, 2012 - 10:30PM

    Majority of Pakistanis do not believe that American have killed OBL in Abbottabad, family of OBL’s wives and children may be living there and looked after by a old Arab person. American killed that old man and told the world they have killed OBL. Where are OBL’s Kidney medecines and where is his GP, who had been treating him. All story seems a fiction. Anyway Allah knows best what is truth. If OBL was there, why Pakistani authority still holding OBL family. They also hiding truth.


  • Punjab, sheiku
    Jan 30, 2012 - 3:51AM

    I predict that most of the negative foul statements against the U.S. are coming from uneducated people that have never ventured out of their tiny little villages less yet, their countries and most certainly have never visited the great country of the United States of America. How could anyone with an IQ punish another human being for clearing the earth from a MASS MURDERER aka Osama Bin Ladin. HELLOOOOO? Anyone that new of his existence and helped him are the people that need to be punished. You need to Redirect your anger where it belongs!


    Jan 30, 2012 - 4:02AM

    People like Shakeel afridi are heroz who helped track world most wanted terrorist. Its good that he passed the information to CIA and not ISI which would obviously help OBL run away.


  • Tim Hover
    Jan 30, 2012 - 10:54AM

    OBL was a mole unleashed on the globe for achieving US agendas where political and democratic chennels wont allow any US adventures, it allowed US government the right to invade any one and have military presence anywhere in the globe in search of Al-qaeda. it has outlived its utility but US is trying to milk it a bit more before they find some one else. Cant imagine people still argue about the presence and authenticity of OBL legend.


  • American Pakistani
    Feb 6, 2012 - 9:08AM

    Mr Leon Panetta you should be concerned about other thousands of pakistanis who are killed because of your drone strikes, terrorism conducted by your proxies and the destruction of infrastructutre and bombings of public places by your contractor namely Black waters and Intelligence solutions, get back in touch with the human element inside you and you will understand what i am trying to say to you.


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