Recruiting and turning sources is the bread and butter of the CIA. Case officers are instructed to build rapport and trust with their assets. That being said, many people believe that the Pakistani doctor who was instrumental in confirming the location of Osama Bin Laden has been left out to dry.
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta confirmed recruitment of the doctor along with establishing a fake hepatitis vaccine program to gain access to the bin Laden compound. Once inside, DNA from the family was retrieved that matched the genetic coding of the bin Laden family.
A few days following the Abbottabad raid, Dr. Shakil Afridi was arrested while trying to pass through the Khyber Pass on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Reports claim that he was arrested because of his affiliation with an extremist group. He was sentenced to 33 years of confinement. Charges of malpractice and conspiracy against the Pakistani government were later added to the doctor’s rap sheet.
The CIA has stated that they offered the doctor and his family extradition prior to the bin Laden raid. Reports claim that the doctor turned down the CIA’s offer because he was confident he could pass freely into Afghanistan.
There are many opinions surrounding the handling of Dr. Afridi. The mishandling of the doctor has affected the recruitment of sources around the globe for the CIA. Sources take a major risk when they spy on their own country. This is certainly true in Muslim-dominated countries where punishment for treason is considerably harsher compared to the Western Hemisphere. Potential assets and sources simply don’t trust the CIA as much due to the handling of Dr. Afridi.
Image courtesy of Robert L. Lang