Health Workers Being Killed Thanks to CIA?
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AMY GOODMAN: He went there with two nurses?
MATTHIEU AIKINS: He went there with a team of nurses, but he actually went to the door of bin Laden’s house with two nurses and knocked on the door and tried to get in.
AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?
MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, what happened next isn’t entirely clear. The nurses have claimed subsequently that they actually never got into the house, but I was able to find someone who had spoken to them earlier, before they were arrested, and they said they did. They had been there earlier on a polio vaccination campaign a couple years before and had vaccinated the children, some of whom were bin Laden’s children, some of whom were children of the two al-Qaeda couriers who were sort of taking care of him in this house. And so, the question is—what we don’t know is whether he brought back a blood sample from the daughter of bin Laden, Maryam bin Laden.
But the timing is very tantalizing, because when that sample would have gotten back—what we know from the documents and the reports that have come out and interviews that I conducted, we know that the—by the time results from a DNAsample would have gotten back when he went there, that arrived—I mean, on April 28th, you had a meeting at the White House where, you know, president and Joe Biden—I mean, they reviewed all the evidence. Joe Biden said, you know, "No, there’s not enough evidence that bin Laden is there for such a risky mission." Obama himself put the chances at 50-50. That’s on the 28th. So the samples would have arrived—the results of the samples would have arrived on the 29th. And that’s the morning when President Obama made the order to go ahead with the mission.
AMY GOODMAN: And those samples were of who?
MATTHIEU AIKINS: It was—he was doing a vaccination campaign for hepatitis for women between the age of 15 and 49. And before you do that, you do a screen where you scratch and take a drop of blood to do a rapid test to see if they already have hepatitis, in which case you can’t vaccinate them. So that was the trick, was to bring back those blood samples. So, it would have been—they were trying to get one of the children of bin Laden who was in the house, so that they could at least establish whether someone who is genetically related to him was there.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, your article also—because Dr. Afridi, shortly after the killing of bin Laden, is then arrested by Pakistani authorities and essentially disappeared for a while—
MATTHIEU AIKINS: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —you went back to track down his family members. And also, you discovered an interesting history of the family, in terms of other Western powers in the region.
MATTHIEU AIKINS: Yeah, absolutely. It was a good reminder of how long the history of, you know, Western imperial involvement in the frontier regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan has been. Shakil Afridi’s maternal grandfather won the Victoria Cross fighting for the British in the trenches of Ypres in Belgium during World War I, and so that was the first, you know, world-famous hero in his family. And the brother of Mir Dast, Shakil Afridi’s maternal grand-uncle, led the first recorded defection to British—to German lines during World War I. So he had this world-famous traitor and this world-famous hero in his family in the past.
AMY GOODMAN: Then the question is, what happened to Afridi afterwards? In May, two top lawmakers warned Pakistan over the sentencing of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for setting up the vaccination effort in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. In a statement, Senators John McCain of Arizona, Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Afridi’s imprisonment could, quote, "diminish Congress’s willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan." State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was questioned on the Obama administration’s handling of Afridi’s case.