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article imageOp-Ed: Doctor who helped CIA track Bin Laden charged with murder

By Ken Hanly     Nov 22, 2013 in World
Islamabad - Shaki Afridi the Pakistani doctor, who provided crucial DNA evidence that convinced US intelligence that Osama bin Laden was in a compound in Abbottabad Pakistan, has now been charged with murder.
The murder charges have nothing directly to do with Afridi's role in helping the CIA but relate to the death of a teenage boy that Afridi had operated on. Sources date the operation from 2005 to 2007. Afridi's attorney says it is now too late for the case to be valid.
The mother of the boy claims that Afridi was a physician not a surgeon and was not authorized to operate on her son. Her son died of complications of the surgery performed in a remote tribal area. Afridi is being held in prison already pending retrial on another charge, despite U.S. officials demanding he be released. The new case multiplies Afridi's troubles since he gathered blood samples in Abbottabad using a fake immunization program as a front. The real purpose was to get samples of Osama's blood and relatives in order to identify him through DNA analysis.
Bin Laden was killed in a US attack on his compound on May 2, 2011. Afridi was arrested while trying to flee Pakistan just days after the raid.
On May 23rd 2012 Afridi was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for treason. At the time it was thought to be related to the bin Laden raid but according to Wikipedia it was related to his alleged relations with an Islamist warlord Mangal Bagh. Even the Pakistan judicial system seems easily bought off by US influence as the original charges based upon his helping the CIA and faking a polio immunization campaign were obviously simply dropped and replaced by the tale of his monetary support for outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam militants.
A commander of the militants said: "We have no link to such a shameless man. If we see him we'll chew him alive. " The court in sentencing Afridi said that he had paid $21,000 dollars to the militant organization and had provided medical assistance to militant commanders in the Khyber. He probably did do the latter as would be required as a doctor. He also no doubt did not report them since he wanted to stay alive.
However, the militant commander had a different story about the money. The money was a fine for over-charging patients: "Afridi and his fellow doctor were fleecing tribesmen, giving them fake medicines and doing fake surgeries. We had a lot of complaints against them and imposed a fine of two million rupees on them" Local residents confirmed the story of Mangal Bagh fining Afridi.
Colleagues at the Jamrud Hospital in the Khyber tribal area were suspicious of his absences that he said involved "business" in Abbottabad. He was accused of taking a half dozen WHO cooler boxes without authorization. The coolers were for inoculation campaigns though at the time none were taking place in his area or Abbottabad.
On October 6, 2011 the Pakistan commission that was looking into Bin Laden's killing recommended that Afridi be charged with "conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason" on the basis of the available evidence. Afridi's assets were seized. The 15 female health care workers who assisted Dr. Afridi in the fake vaccination program were declared unfit for future employment. Investigators claimed in a July 2012 report that Afridi met 25 times with "foreign secret agents, received instructions and provided sensitive information to them". Afridi told the investigators that the charity Save the Children helped him meet US intelligent agents. Save the Children denies this. What happened can explain some of the suspicion of Pakistanis about immunization programs. Not only were all the recommended charges dropped but the illusion was given that they were being pursued when the court documents show that this was all illusion and the real charge had nothing to do with Bin Laden's death and his misdeeds involved with that event. Welcome to Pakistan politics and justice.
However, the howls of rage from the US and cutting off $33 million in aid, one million for each year of his sentence, and other moves, perhaps led to Afridi's sentence being overturned on the 29th of August this year. Senior Pakistani judicial official Sahibzada Anis overturned the sentence of Afridi and ordered a retrial. Of course the retrial also will have nothing to do with Abbottabad, fake inoculation campaigns and taking orders from foreign agents. That aspect of the situation has already been removed from consideration.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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