Dr Afridi sought asylum in US: Investigators

Published: July 26, 2012
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Dr Afridi, who was convicted of treason by a tribal administration, had applied for US visa in 2008 with most of his relatives already settled there. PHOTO: FILE

Dr Afridi, who was convicted of treason by a tribal administration, had applied for US visa in 2008 with most of his relatives already settled there. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: 

Investigators have made a startling revelation: a tribal doctor who had helped the American CIA track down al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound was not kidnapped by the Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) extremist group as was claimed by him.

Dr Shakil Afridi went along with LeI extremists to treat their injured comrades, according to a report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) submitted to the court on Wednesday.

The Mangal Bagh Afridi-led LeI, which once virtually ruled the entire Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency, is now holed up in the remote Tirah Valley.

The JIT report claims that Dr Afridi frequently met with Khyber Agency-based extremist groups after his appointment as in-charge of the Dogra Hospital in 2008.

Dr Afridi, who has been convicted of treason by the tribal administration, had applied for American visa in 2008 as most of his relatives were settled in the United States, the report says. Dr Afridi and his children were issued five-year visas while his wife got only one-year visa.

In July 2008, Dr Afridi went to the United States, where he met with another Pakistani doctor who offered him help in seeking asylum. For this purpose, the doctor said, he would have to convince the judge that Dr Afridi was kidnapped by LeI militants.

In November, 2008 Dr Afridi met with ‘Michal, aka Mike’, the country director of Save the Children, who invited him to Islamabad.  When Dr Afridi did not visit him for 10 days, Mike called him up and asked him about the delay. The two agreed to meet at Saeed Book Bank, Jinnah Market, at 7:30pm on Saturday.

Dr Afridi was then driven to a house in F-6 Sector, Islamabad, where he was introduced to a 38-year-old woman, Kate. They had a dinner meeting and then Dr Afridi started seeing them on first Saturday of every month in Islamabad.

According to the JIT report, Dr Afridi has confessed that he had five ‘handlers’: Kate (Dec 2009-May 2010), Toni (May-Aug 2010), Sara (Aug-Nov 2010) and Suee (Dec 2010-May 2011). He also confessed to have met the handlers 22-23 times.

Dr Afridi was assigned the phony vaccination campaign, which led the CIA to the Bin Laden hideout, when Toni was his handler. In January 2011, Suee told Dr Afridi to carry out a hepatitis-B vaccination campaign in Bagh, Muzafarabad, Mansehra and Abbottabad. The vaccination was meant for women between 15 and 45 years of age.

The vaccination drive began on March 13 in Nawa Shehar, Abbotabad. It had to be completed in three phases within 6 months. However, Bilal Town, particularly its Pathan Street, where the Bin Laden compound was located, was included in the vaccination drive after a month.

Suee had asked him to bring empty vials and kits back to Islamabad after completing the campaign.

A ‘prominent house’ in the town (Bin Laden’s compound) had refused to cooperate with the vaccination staff. Lady health workers told Dr Afridi that the house belonged to two brothers from the Waziristan region.

A lady health worker arranged the cell-phone number of one of the men living in the house and called him from Dr Afridi’s phone. “I’m not at home, come in the evening,” the man told the lady health worker.

In the evening, the vaccination kits were taken to Islamabad where Suee enquired about the ‘large house’ in the locality (Bin Laden’s compound). All vaccination kits were handed over to her and Dr Afridi was paid Rs5.3 million.

On May 5/6 Suee called up Dr Afridi and asked him to flee to Afghanistan immediately because his phony vaccination campaign had helped the CIA track down and kill Bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound.

However, Dr Afridi refused to go to Afghanistan because he thought that he had nothing to do with the al Qaeda chief’s death.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Dr Afridi went to the US in “2009” instead of “2008”. A correction has been made.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 3:44AM

    REVEALED: The Earth is round!

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  • AnisAqeel
    Jul 26, 2012 - 4:10AM

    Instead of holding him on grudging treason charges, release him and show that we were not housing the evil Bin Laden and award Dr. Afridi with the highest civil award. He should settle in the USA along with his entire family as all of them are at death risk.

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  • jawad hassan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 4:46AM

    Well what ever the case is polio vaccination is vital for children, if they suspect CIA involvement they should appoint the molvis for the task,these children are our future dont play politics on our future.

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  • Anonymous
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:15AM

    It should be November 2009, not 2008. The whole world will be reading this. ET should at least take the care to proof-read articles on the first page!

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  • American Desi
    Jul 26, 2012 - 7:34AM

    He had no idea that he was working for CIA and had no clue that his services were being used to track Osama

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  • bangash
    Jul 26, 2012 - 7:49AM

    I don’t believe a word of this bogus report.

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  • Maher
    Jul 26, 2012 - 8:22AM

    Now this is how Uncle Sam protects their civilians… Shame on PAKISTAN

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 8:42AM

    Enough already – regardless of who or what he was trying to do, the facts appear to be that he was knowingly cooperating with a foreign intelligence agency without authorization from the GoP or any relevant institution. His cooperation led to a military assault by the US on Pakistani territory, putting hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians and armed forces personnel at risk in case of a US-Pakistan military confrontation.

    This is treason in my book.

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  • Dr. Doolittle
    Jul 26, 2012 - 8:59AM

    Working for the CIA and working for the LeI…… hmmmmm! There must be a connection betwen LeI and CIA!!

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  • Iram
    Jul 26, 2012 - 9:06AM

    Traitor deserves capital punishment.

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  • Jibran
    Jul 26, 2012 - 9:49AM

    @Iram:
    And the traitors are those who were hiding the most notorious terrorist and mass murderer, and those who are playing with the lives of the children. You agree… Right?

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  • Jibran
    Jul 26, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Give him to Punjab police…. he would admit to anything.

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  • vasan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Not a single statement regarding who supported OBL’s existence and breeding mini OBLs in Pakistan but heaps of leaked news on the good Doc. Pathetic

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  • Hammad
    Jul 26, 2012 - 10:08AM

    Jibran: Are Americans any way different from OBL? Both kill for their own interests and Americans surely have killed a lot more than OBL did. Can’t think of any logic to corner OBL alone.

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  • Salma
    Jul 26, 2012 - 10:42AM

    it is Save the Children US

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  • Sajjad
    Jul 26, 2012 - 11:06AM

    What were the authorities doing.Anybody can come to Pakistan and do anything and we are.blind.Look what the mess they have done to the country-the Al-Qaida, the Taliban and many others.Dr Afridi may not be alone in his activities.There may be others with him.Why hepatitis vaccination were carried out in Muzafarabad,Mansehra and Abbottabad.Perhaps the American had already suspected that OBL must be hiding in one of these cities.Strange the CIA could locate a suspicious big compound in Abbottabad while ours could not.Were no polio immunizations carried out in that compound prior to Dr Afridi’s vaccination mission. He was a govt. doctor serving in FATA.Who authorized his leave..Why no health authorities inquired what he was doing in their areas of responsibility.There are many questions unanswered.Now in many areas of FATA and KPK polio immunization have been refused because of this.

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  • Sinister
    Jul 26, 2012 - 11:33AM

    @Muhammad Hassan: Well dude the earth is not round…

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  • Iram
    Jul 26, 2012 - 11:41AM

    @Hammad: Well said.

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  • John
    Jul 26, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Lets not forget the fact that he was one of the key figures which helped in capture of OBL.

    Would you label a person who helped in capturing the most wanted man in the world a Traitor?

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  • asim
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:13PM

    i dont understand this myth:if Pakistan was also against usama in war against terrorism than why would be the charges against dr.afridi??

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  • Raza Khan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:16PM

    Release him! We have become a laughing stock in the world.

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  • Voice of Gilgit
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:43PM

    He deserve state punishment to cooperate with external sources instate to inform his country intelligence.

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  • Zia
    Jul 26, 2012 - 1:03PM

    Yeah, n people were making him a hero. BS! somebody said he even rejected US offers of citizenship!!! Nothing more than a used tissue paper for US!

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jul 26, 2012 - 1:50PM

    What is the point here? Why don’t we investigate who were the party in housing OBL in Pakistan? Why the report of Justice Jawed Iqbal not published yet?

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  • Waqas Butt
    Jul 26, 2012 - 2:27PM

    Give this doctor a death sentence for his crimes, and close the chapter.

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  • mohsin
    Jul 26, 2012 - 2:51PM

    now Dr afridi will probably be used as bargaining chip by pakistan. he should have been executed on treason charges.

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  • Dee Cee
    Jul 26, 2012 - 3:10PM

    @Agnostic Muslim: Instead of worrying about “potential casualties” from Dr. Afridi’s actions, why not think about the “actual casualties” (50000?) that were inflicted on Pakistan by Bin Laden and his friends? The doctor risked potential conflict to save people. If it had been you, you would have allowed Bin Laden to flourish and would have actually added to the 50000 dead. The ones killed are killed by terrorists, who are inspired and managed by people like Bin Laden. Take a hard look in the mirror and be clear about whose side you are on! Peace. :)

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  • mohsin
    Jul 26, 2012 - 3:10PM

    sooner or later america will come to his rescue.

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  • Anwar
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Pakistan is the most hypocrite country in the world. It is crying that OBL was caught under its nose and now does not know how to handle Dr. Afridi.

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  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 26, 2012 - 7:09PM

    Well now we know how American work, however question is where our agencies were when they meet 22-23 time?
    Next question is simple how any country is dealing with treason case? Why Pakistan should be exception? Kindly note Martian law not applicaple on planet earth as Pakistan is on earth.

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  • Raj
    Jul 26, 2012 - 7:28PM

    @Iram: If he is a traitor then Pakistan was knowingly hiding Osama Bin Laden.

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  • anybodyagree
    Jul 26, 2012 - 8:34PM

    @Hammad:
    OBL is or was American Agent, because directly or indirectly he was responsible lot & lots of death of Muslim around the globe . . .????

    Recommend

  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 27, 2012 - 3:09AM

    @asim:
    Violation of national law, cooperation with foreign country, having information and not passing to nation that how foreigners operate in Pakistan, becoming helping hand and eye of foreign country, dangering health system, enough or more please. Going against the dignities of job, and afridi honor. God bless us all.

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  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 27, 2012 - 3:42AM

    @Raj:
    When Americans with all the Technology, might, power money could not find him for ten years, it is not discussed that why they failed or were helping him to hide, but very easily Pakistan is blamed, what special intelligence is required to understand this simple equation? American allowed to fail but Pakistan can not fail to do the same otherwise it s guilty? Not fare expectation dear.

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