Custom Search

Friday, May 25, 2012

Shakil Afridi Imprisoned For Bin Laden's Death! Who Leaked His Name?

Conviction of Pakistani doctor threatens U.S. ties with Pakistan

The conviction of a Pakistani doctor who tried to help the CIA locate the hiding place of Osama bin Laden is further exacerbating tensions between Washington and Islamabad and could affect U.S. ability to negotiate a deal with Pakistan over re-opening NATO supply lines, senior U.S. officials told CNN.

Dr. Shakil Afridi on Wednesday was convicted of treason for having assisted the United States in trying to uncover the location of the terror leader last year under the guise of a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He was sentenced to 33 years by a tribal court in northwestern Pakistan, and sent to prison in Peshawar following the ruling.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have both spoken of their concern for Afridi, and have called for his release.

Clinton said Thursday that the United States "does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr. Afridi."

"His help, after all, was instrumental in taking down one of the world's most notorious murderers."

"This action by Dr. Afridi helped to bring about the end of the reign of terror - designed and executed by bin Laden - (and) was not in anyway a betrayal of Pakistan. ... We will continue to press it with the government of Pakistan."

Senior U.S. officials said Afridi worked with the United States prior to the bin Laden raid, but was never asked to spy on Pakistan and was only asked to help locate al-Qaeda terrorists posing a threat to both Pakistan and the United States.

"Over the course of his several years of service, Dr. Afridi was able to provide valuable information on al Qaeda in the FATA, the group's safe-haven," a senior U.S. official with knowledge of Afridi's activities in Pakistan told CNN. "Dr. Afridi was inadvertently able to confirm something we already suspected - that bin Laden's couriers practiced extraordinary operational security. Was that a key to the raid? No. Was it important? Absolutely."

Another senior U.S. official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in Pakistan told CNN that Afridi "helped save Pakistani and American lives. His activities were not treasonous, they were heroic and patriotic."

Afridi's conviction adds to an already-damaged and fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. Relations between the two countries essentially froze last November following the accidental killing of Pakistani soldiers in a NATO airstrike. Pakistan in turn closed supply lines into Afghanistan that NATO used to support the war effort.

Senior administration officials pointed to Clinton's statement about the ruling, which she made unprompted by any questions from journalists, as evidence of the seriousness with which the U.S. takes the issue.

Senior State Department officials have pointed to her remarks and reinforced her message in subsequent calls with Pakistani officials, the senior administration officials said.

"We are saying exactly along the lines of what she said," one senior official said. "We tell the Pakistanis they have agreed bin Laden should not have been in their country and we could easily argue that they should have been helping us get him. This case colors the attitude of the U.S. government, but also of the U.S. Congress at budget time."

Congressional outrage was in full force Thursday as the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut $33 million from the military aid package to Pakistan.

The figure derived from Afridi's 33-year sentence.

The 30-0 roll call was based on an amendment to the Senate version of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The amendment calls for the $33 million to be upheld until "the Secretary of State reports to the Committees on Appropriations that Dr. Shakil Afridi has been released from prison and cleared of all charges relating to the assistance provided to the United States in locating Osama bin Laden."

The amendment was sponsored by Sens. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina; Dan Coats, R-Indiana; Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont; Dianne Feinstein, D-California; and Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey.

"For them to do what they did signals this is a pretty big issue," the senior administration official said.

Officials said Afridi's case could tie U.S. hands to negotiate a deal with Pakistan to reopen its border with Afghanistan to military shipments of departing NATO forces, which would resolve a sticky issue in planning the withdrawal of foreign forces.

Pakistan closed the ground routes after a NATO airstrike in November killed two dozen of its soldiers. NATO insists the incident was an accident. Obama offered his condolences, but refused to apologize.

The United States and Pakistan have not come to an agreement on the price of reopening the supply lines, known as the ground lines of communication or GLOCs.

The senior U.S. officials said the deal is essentially done except for agreement on a fee for trucks that cross the border. Pakistan was requesting $5,000 per truck as a condition to reopen the supply lines between the two South Asian countries but previously, the United States had been paying just a "small fraction" of the requested fee and is not expected to pay the stiff fees, officials said.

"We are talking now about the GLOCs but the Afridi issue could hurt our ability to negotiate a deal," the second senior U.S. official said. "If Congress did what it did yesterday, what else are they going to do?

Obama accused of abandoning Pakistani doctor who led Navy SEALs to bin Laden... as U.S. withdraws MILLIONS in aid to Pakistan in protest at his jail sentence

Peter Brookes, a former intelligence analyst and adviser, said the U.S. should have had a plan in place to get him out of Pakistan before his arrest.

Mr Brookes told 'You probably wouldn't want to have tipped him off ahead of time, but maybe the day right afterward you would have wanted to have helped him leave Pakistan - and the same with anybody else who was working with us.'

While the State Department claims it is in talks with Pakistan in the Afridi case, another ex-intelligence official says they’re not doing enough, if anything.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Fox News: 'From what I'm hearing, we did pretty much nothing.'

'We did nothing diplomatically at all, didn't raise a finger. ... From what my sources tell me, we did nothing to try and help this guy.'

On Wednesday, Rep Peter King, the New York congressman who leads the House Homeland Security Committee, pointed to the White House for 'outing' Dr Afridi to Pakistani authorities.

'They put him out there,' Mr King said in light of the doctor's prison sentence for treason by the Pakistani government.

'This has been handled very poorly right from the time of the raid,' Mr King told Fox News. 'They disclosed his identity.'

The sentence is viewed by Western officials as punishment for humiliating the nation which claimed not to know it was harbouring the Al Qaeda leader.
Meanwhile, a Senate panel expressed its outrage Thursday over Pakistan's conviction of Dr Afridi by cutting aid to Islamabad by $33million - $1million for every year of the physician's 33-year sentence for high treason.
The punitive move came on top of deep reductions the Appropriations Committee already had made to President Obama's budget request for Pakistan, a reflection of the growing congressional anger over its cooperation in combatting terrorism.
The overall foreign aid budget for next year had slashed more than half of the proposed assistance and threatened further reductions if Islamabad failed to open overland supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Pushing aside any diplomatic talk, Republicans and Democrats criticised Pakistan a day after Dr Afridi’s conviction.
The doctor ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden's presence at the compound in Abbottabad where U.S. commandos found and killed the al-Qaeda leader in May 2011.
The United States has called for Dr Afridi's release, arguing that he was acting in the interest of the U.S. and Pakistan.
'We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don't need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end,' said Sen Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, who pushed for the additional cut in aid.
He accused Pakistan of 'schizophrenic ally' helping the U.S. at one turn, but then aiding the Haqqani network which has claimed responsibility for several attacks on Americans.
The group also has ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
'It's Alice in Wonderland at best,' said Democratic Sen Patrick Leahy of Vermont. 'If this is cooperation, I'd hate like hell to see opposition.'

One of the most forceful statements came from Sen Dianne Feinstein of California, who also serves as the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
She pointed out that Pakistan has suffered at the hands of terrorists yet misconstrued what is treason in convicting Afridi. She also insisted that Afridi was not a spy.
'This conviction says to me that al-Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan,' said Feinstein, who said it made her rethink U.S. assistance.
The committee approved Sen Graham's amendment to cut the assistance by $33million on a 30-0 vote.
In crafting the overall legislation, the committee reduced Obama's request to aid Pakistan by 58 per cent as resentment and doubts linger on Capitol Hill, a year after bin Laden was killed deep inside Pakistan.
Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have increased as Pakistan closed overland supply routes to Afghanistan after a U.S. attack on the Pakistani side of the border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
Dr Afridi helped the CIA by running a fake vaccination programme that allowed him to collect the DNA of Bin Laden’s children from the family compound in Abbottabad.

Sample analysis confirmed the terror leader was probably there and triggered the deadly mission by U.S. Navy SEALS last May.
It sparked a major rift between the US and Pakistani leaders who were embarrassed that Bin Laden had been living in a major military hub close to the capital.
A furious Pakistan felt the covert operation was a violation of its sovereignty and implied the US was unable to trust its key partner in the war on terror.

Dr Afridi was arrested shortly after the bin Laden raid, for conspiring against the state of Pakistan, his house was sealed and all assets frozen.

A commission recommended a charge of conspiracy against Pakistan and high treason.
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed in January that Dr Afridi collected DNA in an effort to help locate Bin Laden but added he 'was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan. For them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism is a real mistake.'

Dr Afridi had no right to legal representation, to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses. He must also pay a $3,600 fine or serve a further three-and-a-half years in jail.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for his release.

View Larger Map

Sources: CNN, Daily Mail, Geo News, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: