Such novelistic details emerge in a newly surfaced Pakistani intelligence report supposedly based on interrogations of Shakil Afridi, the imprisoned physician who has been lauded in Washington as a hero for his role in the operation that led to the al-Qaeda chief’s killing but is branded a traitor here.
“He met 25 times with foreign secret agents, received instructions and provided sensitive information to them,” states the investigative report, filed by prosecutors Wednesday in a tribal appeals court where Afridi is seeking to overturn his 33-year sentence. “The accused was aware that he was working against Pakistan.”
The narrative laid out in the report could not be independently verified. The interrogations that it purports to summarize were carried out under a tribal judicial system in which Afridi had no counsel and could not challenge the evidence against him.
“There is no evidence — only the prosecution investigation report, which under the law has no legal value,” Afridi’s attorney, Samiullah Afridi, said Thursday.
Shakil Afridi lived in the semiautonomous Khyber Agency in Pakistan’s northwest — which the government said put him under the jurisdiction of tribal administrative officials who also are empowered to act as a court. The prison term incensed U.S. lawmakers, who at one point cut $1 million in aid for Pakistan for every year of the sentence. Obama administration officials have called on Pakistan to release Afridi.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, detained the doctor three weeks after U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in May 2011. A year later, he was sentenced for crimes against the state that allegedly included assisting a banned militant group; the bin Laden operation was not mentioned at the time.
But in the new prosecution report, investigators say Afridi played a “central role” in the raid on the terrorist leader’s compound. The operation “humiliated Pakistan around the world,” it adds.
U.S. has admitted to ruse
U.S. officials acknowledge that the CIA used Afridi, 48, to run a hepatitis vaccination program as a ruse, hoping to find a match for bin Laden’s DNA and thereby verify the al-Qaeda leaders’ presence in Abbottabad, the garrison town where he hid for six years.
The report says Afridi received about $61,000 for the operation in Abbottabad, as well as substantial sums for previous work that involved hepatitis-B vaccination campaigns in other areas.
Afridi allegedly told interrogators that a lunch with an official from Save the Children in 2008 led to his first meeting with “Kate” in an upscale Islamabad neighborhood. Eventually the doctor would deal with three other handlers: a man whose name is spelled Toni in the report; Sara; and Sue (also spelled Suee).