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Pakistan May Be Holding 'Traitor' Who Helped Take Down Bin Laden, Congressman Asks to Grant 'Hero' U.S. Citizenship


Concerns are growing over the safety of a Pakistani doctor who might have played an unwitting yet heroic role in the U.S. take-down of Osama bin Laden.

According to Fox News, Dr. Shikal Afridi may be in the custody of Pakistan's clandestine Inter-Services Intelligence agency after it discovered the doctor's participation in a fake Hepatitis B vaccination program that attempted to gain DNA samples from those within bin Laden's Abbottabad compound -- including several followers and their families.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta this week questioned the charges against the doctor.

"I'm very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual," he told CBS News. "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 reminded thst 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," said Panetta.

Fox reports that Panetta's comments are the first to publicly acknowledge Afridi's involvement in the operation.

Fox provides some of the background:

Afridi was arrested shortly after the raid and is thought to still be in custody despite not formally being charged with a crime. His detention has widened the rift between the U.S. and Pakistan, with Washington until now quietly pressing for his release so Afridi and his family can resettle in the U.S., according to The Guardian newspaper, which first reported on the doctor's role in the operation last July.

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 may not have even been aware that he was working for the CIA and instead may have been recruited by other Pakistanis to carry out the fake house-to-house vaccination program.

Now, lawmakers are coming to Afridi's aid. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced legislation to grant U.S. citizenship to Afridi as Pakistan’s Inquiry Commission on the Abbottabad Operation has recommended the doctor be tried for treason. If convicted, Afridi could be executed.

An official press release from Rohrabacher's office stated:

“It is shameful and unforgivable that our supposed allies in Pakistan have charged Dr. Afridi, who contributed to the operation that killed Bin Laden, with treason,” said Rohrabacher. “The United States needs to stand with those who help us. We have not forgotten about Dr. Afridi.”

“By granting him American citizenship we will send a direct and powerful message to those in the Pakistani government and military who protected the mastermind of 9/11 for all those years and who are now seeking retribution on those who helped to bring Bin Laden to justice,” Rohrabacher continued.  “We must assume the obvious and conclude that Pakistan’s leaders have plotted for years to kill Americas.”

Panetta also told CBS News that there was no actual evidence of Pakistani involvement in bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, but suspicions must have been raised.

"I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound," Panetta said of Pakistan's alleged involvement in harboring bin Laden.

"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," he said. "So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, 'What the hell's going on there?'


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