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Umar Cheema
Thursday, May 24, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Dr Shakeel Afridi, who spied for CIA to get Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, was paid an extra $10,000 for obtaining blood samples of the residents living in the Abbottabad compound housing al-Qaeda’s top leader and the directions were conveyed on April 26, 2011, only five days before the raid.

 

As the compound residents refused to cooperate saying they already had these tests, CIA provided Dr Afridi the cell number of Abrar (known as Tariq), younger brother of Ibrahim alias Abu Ahmad Al- Kuwaiti (known there as Arshad) advising Shakeel to speak through his female assistant. His CIA contact was known to him as ‘Peter’ whom he would pass on the information through satellite phone, he told the ISI interrogators later on, saying he was never informed about Osama’s possible presence there but he himself suspected a ‘high value target’ given the CIA interests there. Peter is said to have flown out of Pakistan the day the operation was completed. Brig (retd) Shaukat Qadir, the only man given access to ISI interrogation record of the whole story, says that Shakeel was initially told to run a fake campaign for testing people’s blood to find out who was suffering from Hepatitis. He was told to start this campaign in February/March 2011 at the time that Khairee, Osama eldest wife, arrived in Abbottabad, who all residents of the compound suspected carrying a chip that could have been installed to track her location. Claiming to be an employee of an NGO, Shakeel was instructed to obtain blood samples, carry out the tests for Hepatitis, so as to inform people if any one tested positive, thus avoiding suspicion, but to forward portions of all samples to his CIA contact. Shakeel faithfully began carrying out his duties. He hired office space in Abbottabad, arranged for testing of blood samples at a private local hospital on cash payment and, also hired the services of a female health worker, who had no idea whom she was really working for. He was told to focus on Bilal Town and Nawan Shehr area, Qadir writes in his book titled: ‘Operation Geronimo: the betrayal and execution of Osama bin Laden and its aftermath.’ Bilal Town is where Osama was residing and Nawan Shehr is the residential area where Abu Faraj Al-Libi was hiding in 2004. Shakil had no idea about who is being followed and ‘he was merely paid to follow instructions,’ writes Qadir. In late April, Shakeel was told to try obtaining samples from the house that Osama was residing in. Although he still did not know why he was being asked to, he began to suspect that there was a high value target here, according to Qadir. Shakeel asked for, and received an extra $10,000 for this task. Shakeel was connected through satellite to another unnamed handler of the CIA, he told ISI later. On receiving the money on April 26th, he was told to try to obtain blood samples of all residents of the compound and, in the event that he was not permitted to, he was provided a cell number (Tariq’s), and was instructed to ask his female assistant to call, and speak in Urdu with some English thrown in, as if she was more comfortable in English, writes Qadir. Shakeel rang the bell and Tariq came out, but said they had all been tested earlier and a repeat was unnecessary. Shakeel’s puzzled assistant made the call as instructed on the evening of 26th April 2011. A male voice responded (Tariq’s) and handed her over to Khairee. They spoke in English and when the puzzled female assistant found that she could make no sense of what Khairee was saying, she handed the phone back to Shakeel, according to Qadir. Khairee continued to speak nonstop in English for a minute or so and then concluded with some foul language in Arabic. According to Shakeel, he was instructed to tape the conversation. As per instructions, Shakeel handed over his cell phone as well as the tape to Peter (CIA contact) after the conversation was over. But, for some reason, decided to also make a copy of the taped conversation for himself as well that was later taken over by ISI.