December 6, 2013
Conspiracy theorists have questioned Osama bin Laden’s death since the Abbottabad raid in 2011. Now, those skeptical of the military’s account of how bin Laden was killed have fuel to add to their conspiratorial fire.
That’s because the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find bin Laden and who confirmed bin Laden’s DNA after the raid has been arrested on murder charges. Dr. Shakil Afridi has been charged with killing a boy during a 2006 surgery to remove his appendix.
Pakistani police didn’t have to go far to arrest Afridi: he is already serving a 33 year prison sentence for “conspiring against the state,” a charge connected to his work on a CIA vaccination program meant to confirm bin Laden’s presence at the Abbottabad compound. Now, there’s a growing concern that the one man who could confirm that the man who died in Abbottabad was bin Laden might never see the light of day
The latest charge against Afridi is likely to deepen the diplomatic tension between the United States and Pakistan. The Americans, who view Afridi as a hero that helped to eliminate the most wanted man in American history, want him released. They say the charges are trumped up. The Pakistanis, furious over his work with the Americans, view him as a traitor who enabled an unsanctioned attack on Pakistani soil.
The United States has done its best to quash doubters of bin Laden’s death. But Afridi’s disappearance deep into the bowels of the Pakistani prison system is likely to embolden claims that Osama bin Laden’s death was one big hoax.