The Guardian reports that the CIA set up a fake vaccination drive in Abbottabad, Pakistan to obtain DNA samples from individuals in the bin Laden compound.
The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader’s family, a Guardian investigation has found.
As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.
If true, it’s appalling. Mass murderer that bin Laden was, infectious disease is a far more effective killer than he could ever dream of being, and vaccination one of the most effective weapons we have against it, eradicating smallpox and bringing us ever closer to eradicating polio. Sadly, polio eradication is being held up by a number of factors, and one of the reasons is some extremist Muslim clerics claiming that vaccination is an anti-Muslim conspiracy – as a result, a number of health workers in vaccination programs have been murdered in recent years.
The CIA’s plot has handed such idiots – and local anti-vaxxers – what appears to be a concrete, documented example of a real conspiracy to use a vaccination program for underhanded purposes. The net result – quite possibly, more premature deaths than ever caused by bin Laden himself.
Maybe the CIA conducted an agonized internal debate over whether bin Laden’s particular heinousness justified the deception, and the possible blowback. On their past track record, I doubt it.