Islamabad, Feb 4 (ANI): Concerns are being raised about the safety of a Pakistani doctor who might have played a crucial role in the final take-down of former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.
Fox News reports that Dr. Shikal Afridi may have been kept in the custody of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) after it discovered that he had participated in a fake Hepatitis B vaccination program that attempted to gain DNA samples from people within the Abbottabad compound that sheltered bin Laden and his family.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta questioned this week about the charges against Afridi.
"I'm very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual. This was an individual who, in fact, helped provide intelligence on -- that was very helpful with regards to this operation. And he was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan. He was not in any way doing anything that would have undermined Pakistan."
Panetta also underscored that the U.S. and Pakistan "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 it's a real mistake on their part," Panetta, who was head of the CIA at the time of the Navy SEALs raid last May, said.
Reports suggest that Afridi rang the bell of the bin Laden compound during the vaccination drive, and the nurse who was with him was able to get inside, but was ultimately unsuccessful in getting any DNA samples.
Reports have also suggested that Afridi might not have even known that he was working for the CIA and instead might have been recruited by other Pakistanis to carry out the fake house-to-house vaccination program.
Although Panetta said that there was no actual evidence of Pakistani involvement in bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, he insisted suspicions must have been raised.
"I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound," he said.
"Don't forget, this compound had 18-foot walls around it -- 12-foot walls in some areas, 18-foot walls elsewhere, a seven-foot wall on the third balcony of the house. 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?'" he added. (ANI)
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