Peshawar: Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who had allegedly helped the Central Intelligence Agency track down al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden to his Abbottabad compound in May 2011, has rejected the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, insisting that he conducted the vaccination drive in Abbottabad on the directives of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department officials.
"I didn`t conduct the vaccination campaign to track down the al Qaeda chief. I was told by the officials of the Health Department to conduct an anti-hepatitis campaign," Dr Afridi`s counsel, Samiullah Afridi, quoted his client, as saying in his appeal against his 33-year-long conviction.
The News quoted Samiullah, as saying that Dr Afridi also termed his association with the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) as false, claiming that he was kidnapped by the LI and released after payment of Rs 1 million.
The JIT report revealed that Dr Afridi had opened an underground clinic and was conducting operations of the LI fighters and other injured militants from 2006 to 2011. It also claimed that Dr Afridi frequently met leaders of Khyber Agency-based extremist groups after his appointment as in-charge of the Dogra Hospital.
According to the report, Dr Afridi had applied for US visa in 2008. The following year, in July, Dr Afridi went to the US where he met another Pakistani doctor, Hashmi, who offered him help in seeking asylum in the US. For this purpose, the doctor said, he would have to convince the judge that LI militants kidnapped Dr Afridi.
The JIT report also stated that Dr Afridi had five handlers whom he confessed to have met 22-23 times.