Seventeen local health workers have been fired in Abbottabad for their part in a CIA scheme to try to confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in the northern Pakistani town. The low-ranking health department employees were punished for helping Dr Shakil Afridi, who was assigned by the CIA to set up a fake vaccination scheme in Abbottabad, ahead of the 3 May US military operation that found and killed the al-Qaida leader there.
The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader’s family, a Guardian investigation has found. As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.