Washington: The United States has defended the CIA’s tactics of using a fake vaccination drive to spy on Osama bin Laden.
The vaccination drive was conducted by CIA operatives shortly before US troops launched the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, near Islamabad.
The drive, according to officials was overseen by a Pakistani doctor who travelled to Abbotabad. The CIA wanted to collect DNA evidence from residents to learn whether bin Laden lived in the compound, The Washington Post reports.
While defending the spy operation, a senior US official said the campaign involved the dispensation of an actual hepatitis vaccine, and should therefore not be construed as a ‘fake public health effort.’
“People need to put this into some perspective. The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else. If the United States hadn’t shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn’t used all tools at its disposal to find bin Laden,” a senior official was quoted, as saying, by the paper.
The CIA is reportedly going to seek the release of the doctor and the issue will be discussed when CIA’s acting director, Michael Morell, and his Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha meet next week in Washington.
The Pakistani doctor, who overlooked the fake vaccination program has now been arrested by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
The US officials have, however, declined to say whether DNA from bin Laden’s relatives was collected as part of the vaccination program.
Officials had earlier said that they used DNA analysis to confirm bin Laden’s identify after he was killed, and they used samples taken from known relatives.