Aiding Bin Laden hunt: Dr Shakil Afridi jailed for 33 years

Published: May 24, 2012
Dr Shakil Afridi. PHOTO: INP

Dr Shakil Afridi. PHOTO: INP


A Pakistani doctor who helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) track down al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad mansion has been sentenced to 33 years in jail on treason charges.

Dr Shakil Afridi was accused of running a phony vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that helped the American spy agency hunt down Bin Laden in May last year.

The court of Assistant Political Agent (APA) for Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency, Nasir Khan, sentenced Dr Afridi to 33-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs320,000 following a secret trial at an undisclosed location. In case of failure to pay the fine, he will have to serve another three-and-a-half years jail-term.

Under the notorious Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a British-era set of laws that govern the tribal regions, the APA, an administrative office, also enjoys special judicial powers. The FCR also doesn’t give an accused the right to hire a defence.

“Dr Shakil, s/o Mewa Khan, from Malikdin Khel sub-clan of Afridi tribe and a resident of Khyber Agency, was sentenced under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) clauses related to offences against the  state, conspiracy or attempt to wage war against the state, spying and allying with a foreign government against the state’s interests,” a Khyber administration official told journalists on Wednesday.

“Dr Afridi was tried secretly and he was found guilty,” the official said, adding that after APA’s court Dr Afridi was produced in the superior court of PA Muthar Zeb who upheld the sentence. Subsequently, he was sent to Peshawar’s central prison.

Unlike the PPC, FCR do not carry the death penalty for treason. However, Dr Afridi has the right to appeal his punishment. Dr Afridi was arrested by intelligence agencies following the May 2, 2011 raid on Bin Laden’s compound by US special forces. He has not been publicly heard of since.

He was handed over to the Khyber Agency’s administration a few days ago because he was serving as Agency Surgeon in a hospital in the Landi Kotal sub-division at the time of his arrest. A lawyer said that PPC’s Section 121 deals with “attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the state”. Only a sessions court can hear such cases – and the maximum punishment for the offence is death penalty, the lawyer told The Express Tribune, requesting that his name not be mentioned in the report.

He believed that instead of APA, the political agent should have tried Dr Afridi because his case has become high-profile. “The accused has the right to appeal his sentence before Peshawar’s commissioner who is also commissioner FCR under the law,” he added.

Fata Lawyers’ Forum President Ejaz Mohmand, however, disagreed. He conceded that all sections under which Dr Afridi has been sentenced are from PPC, but the APA has the powers under Section 11 of FCR to sentence a person.

(Read: Shakil Afridi – another view)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • May 24, 2012 - 5:37AM

    One year after Bin Laden’s death and over 10 years since 9/11, American citizens are still blindly allowing their civil liberties to be taken away one piece of legislation at a time. How much freedom are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? Under the guise of fighting terrorism, laws have been put in place as a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at


  • Aftab
    May 24, 2012 - 5:49AM

    This is crazy!! The doctor did an excellent thing by helping to kill the world’s most wanted terrorist who was responsible for killing so many innocent people. How is helping to kill an evil person a crime? He should be given a cash reward. He has received so much sawab for doing something like this. Allah will grant him jannat in the hereafter. We should all honor this man and be proud that he had the courage to do this. He is a world wide celebrity!


  • sat
    May 24, 2012 - 5:58AM

    sorry to hear dr. got arrested. put in jail for 32years. did he really know what he was doing. this man is very innocent. spys works on this kind inosat person. man spent his 180to 20 years to become a dopctor. has no time to think for 6year execpt pass medical . be a doctor to full fill his parents dream. and his own. come on man look behind the sean. this is a inocient man . made fool by spy and politician. give him a chance and let himn live his innocient life. help otherts to recover.may wahay guru help him.


  • roadkashehzada
    May 24, 2012 - 6:29AM

    wrong reporting ET
    it was due to conspiring with foreign intelligence agencies which is a crime in any country of the world.


  • Ch Allah Daad
    May 24, 2012 - 6:36AM

    He might have thought that as per Pakistani media and some retired generals, OBL is already dead, therefore its no harm to make some money through phony vaccination campaign. If he get out of jail, he should sue meida and generals for misinformation.


  • Zillur Rahman
    May 24, 2012 - 6:53AM

    Why was Dr. Afridi tried secretly? And what was he found guilty of? He has been judged a traitor by the real traitors who have been betraying Pakistan’s interests by secretly aiding and abetting the actual enemies of Pakistan, namely, the Al Qaeda and its infamous commander Osama Bin Laden.


  • AnisAqeel
    May 24, 2012 - 6:56AM

    So aiding Bin Laden was okay but helping locate worlds number one terrorist is a very serious crime!!! What a logic!


  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 24, 2012 - 7:06AM

    Treason is when an individual does something which is against national policy or interests . Was finding OBL against the policy or interests of Pakistan?


  • Critique
    May 24, 2012 - 7:16AM

    Yeah boy, that’s what you get for going against your country to help USA.

    Next in line: PM Gilani please.


  • Faraz
    May 24, 2012 - 7:26AM

    They couldn’t go do anything about the Americans who invaded our land, and made him a scapegoat. They couldn’t even protest against the attack at any official level and returned their chopper, too. The greatest army/Intelligence agency in the world and our government!! Proud!


  • moram
    May 24, 2012 - 7:29AM

    Was bin Laden a friend or a foe? Was/Is USA an ally or an enemy country? very confusing!!!!


  • May 24, 2012 - 7:29AM

    The crime took place in Abbotabad. How can he be tried under FCR.


  • Bangash
    May 24, 2012 - 7:39AM

    We have not and we will not convict or punish any killer of our key public figures including presidents and prime ministers. We have not and will not convict or punish any terrorist, suicide bombers, their handlers, or Talibans who happily claim responsibility for all such murders. We will not convict or punish any of the hate mongers spewing venom in the name of religion, sects, cast, ethnicity. We will not punish even a single dictator who are known to have committed treason by making a mockery of our constitution. BUT we are proud to punish this person who helped nab an internationally known terrorist (his real role doubtful). How is this treason against government if government claims to be fighting a war against terrorism? Please help answer this simple question.


  • yusuf
    May 24, 2012 - 7:48AM

    ET! Just give the news, not analysis! Mixing your own point of view in each news is too much now and being exposed.


  • Sandip
    May 24, 2012 - 7:51AM

    Just the other day the defence minister was saying that the Pakistani agencies had played a major role in getting OBL. When are those people going to be tried for treason?
    Also what about those people who enabled OBL to stay in Abbottabad for such a long time? When are they going to be tried for treason?
    Pakistan needed to decide which of these 2 acts – bringing OBL to justice or enabling him to stay, was treason. And it seems it has decided the former is the treasonous act. So mind bringing all those officers, who the defence minister was referring to as having played important role in OBL’s knock out, to trial for treason.
    When is this double-speak going to end? The world has had enough of it.


  • nirmal maunder
    May 24, 2012 - 7:55AM

    Offence is spying for a foreign country & revealing state secrets against state,s interests.Does the pakistan govt accept that osama’s stay their was a state secret & revealing it in any way damaged interests of state?This is not what the pakistan govt professes when it is in a state of war against terrorists led by Obama.The government must come clean on Osama affair.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    May 24, 2012 - 8:09AM

    Amnesty International has termed US Abbottabad Operation in Pakistan on May 02, 2011 in which OBL was killed as illegal.

    How can Dr. Shakil Afridi’s action of OBL DNA test could be termed as legal?

    Dr. Shakil Afridi’s actions may be legal in the eyes of US.

    This is one of the reason that US Senators are yelling.

    Dr. Shakil Afridi should have been handed down capital punishment or should have been sentenced to 8y years of jail term.


  • Goodcall
    May 24, 2012 - 8:16AM

    What about those who were hiding Osama… Any convictions there?


  • Afghan Perspective
    May 24, 2012 - 8:32AM

    Afridi is Hero of Pashtuns. Under Pashtunwali colde, When one is dishonored by someone, the only way to restore one ‘s honor is to take revenge. Mr. Afridi was dishonored when he was abducted by the strategic assets of the Pak Army in Khyber Agency. Like all other Pashtuns, Mr. Afridi was also discontent with the present state of affairs, where deliberatly Pashtun population, thier leaders, their culture, language, and history is under threat from the forces that are nurtured for advancing the strategic depth.


  • Irtiza
    May 24, 2012 - 8:43AM

    Afridi jailed for helping in locating the most wanted man who was responsible for killing thousands of inncoent Pakistanis.


  • ahmad
    May 24, 2012 - 8:44AM

    Joke after joke from military estabishment and judiciary run by PCO judges. If our agencies were also hunting Osama rather than protecting him then Dr. Shakil helped our cause. Its clear our agencies did not want Osama to be captured. What a shame……


  • May 24, 2012 - 8:45AM

    “Following a secret trial at an undisclosed location”. Such a farce. Why not put on trial Govt too for siding with US and CIA cronies and charge govt. with treason.


  • Haider H
    May 24, 2012 - 8:45AM

    What a pathetic justice! He aided CIA and gets jail. But what about CIA itself who operated within our border without “official” consent. And what about corrupt Army Generals who took care of Bin Laden in their own backyard.


  • Wellwisher
    May 24, 2012 - 8:48AM

    “Dr Shakil, s/o Mewa Khan, from Malikdin Khel sub-clan of Afridi tribe and a resident of Khyber Agency, was sentenced under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) clauses related to offences against the state, conspiracy or attempt to wage war against the state, spying and allying with a foreign government against the state’s interests,” a Khyber administration official told journalists on Wednesday.

    Is helping locate OBL against the State’s interest?


  • Adnan
    May 24, 2012 - 8:56AM

    Since Dr. Tariq is US National, so the Government of USA will get him released and taken to USA just like Raymen Devis …


  • rsk
    May 24, 2012 - 8:59AM

    Very Good, Keep up the good work Mr. Chief Justice. People like Afridi should be behind bars and also all the sane people of pakistan. The streets of Pakistan are not fit for upright citizens.


  • Mr.Hoodboy
    May 24, 2012 - 9:14AM

    Shame on our judicial and political system!


  • Azam Afridi
    May 24, 2012 - 9:27AM

    He should have been hanged – he is a shame.


  • adnan
    May 24, 2012 - 9:27AM

    Excellent decision. Dr. Afridi should be made an example.


  • May 24, 2012 - 9:40AM

    Serves him right! But what kind of a hideous picture is that?


  • wonderer
    May 24, 2012 - 9:49AM

    …….., spying and allying with a foreign government against the state’s interests,” ……..

    This shows that OBL’s presence in Pakistan was in the interest of the state. Pray, what was that interest?


  • Malatesh
    May 24, 2012 - 9:51AM

    This is reward he got for exposing Pakistan’s double game. Whole world is against this decision except Pakistan. Pakistan is spoiling its own future by doing like this and blaming west, US and India for its situation.


  • Salman
    May 24, 2012 - 10:03AM

    Who cares OBL was good or a bad guy. No one is allowed to cooperate with foreign spies at first place. Period.Recommend

  • Faraz
    May 24, 2012 - 10:04AM

    This acutally proves two things 1) Contrary to what most Pakistanis think, OBL was indeed living in Pakistan 2) Pakistan was providing protection to OBL otherwise why would they imprison somebody who actually helped “locate” this mass murderer.

    But I thought Pakistan and US are allies? Also, OBL was never in Pakistan, then why is this Dr. being tried? Oh, also OBL is a martyr (shaheed) but why the religious leaders offered his namaz-e-janazah when he was never killed in Pakisan? I am just very confused, It’s all a conspiracy again by the anti-Islamic forces (SARCASM). We don’t know the ground realities but yet keep churning our conspiracy theories left, right and center, without much sense.


  • Jawad Iqbal Jawad
    May 24, 2012 - 10:06AM

    Really confused about the definition of friends and foes. But this is an obvious crime to assist and support the foreign intelligence agencies for their activities in homeland. But how about all those so-called civilized agents and supporters of CIA who are on important posts????????????????


  • Osama
    May 24, 2012 - 10:12AM

    Dr.Shakil Afridi is just the tip of the iceberg, and they are using him as a scapegoat. All the incompetent so called intelligence officers should also be tried and sentenced to prison like him. They are the main threat to our country. Where were they when CIA was planning, recruiting people and doing all these activities?!


  • Realist
    May 24, 2012 - 10:26AM


    I doubt that. You see, Davis was a white pure born American. This guy however, is an immigrant American. Huge difference.


  • Freedom Seeker
    May 24, 2012 - 10:40AM

    I wonder why they didn’t give him capital punishment.


  • Junaid Ali
    May 24, 2012 - 10:57AM

    Traitor, got what he deserved.
    He should have given this information to Pakistani agencies, not some foreign country who is killing our civilians everday in drone strikes.


  • Hedgefunder
    May 24, 2012 - 11:15AM

    How can this man be charged with treason, when he helped to catch most wanted man in the world. After all he was an illegal Saudi residing without papers or visas in Pakistan !!!!
    Just how this man commit Treason???


  • RizwanTKhan
    May 24, 2012 - 12:25PM

    He should be tried for treason. If he was that of a noble man and wanted to get rid (so called) of Osama then he should have informed Pakistani authorities, not American (the biggest terrorist state).


  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 24, 2012 - 12:33PM

    I think the establishment has just told the average Pakistani “Dont mess the boss”


  • DB
    May 24, 2012 - 2:16PM

    Those calling him a hero. He was not looking for OBL. He was just doing fake polio vaccinations and collecting DNA evidence for money for CIA – he was never told about his intended target. He broke his oath to this profession, his government job and to his country. That is treason by any means and especially by tribal customs.


  • Sandip
    May 24, 2012 - 6:03PM

    @Osama: Well they were busy running bakeries, striking land deals, counting dollars running marrige halls and playing security guards to NATO.


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