Remember when we killed Osama bin Laden? It was on May 2, 2011. A lot has happened since that time. President Obama ran for a second term and won. Hillary Clinton resigned as Secretary of State so she could start her campaign for President. Benghazi. Tom Brady was accused of deflating footballs for an NFL playoff game. Space X launched a rocket into space and landed the booster on a floating barge so it can be used again. North Korea got nukes and Iran is getting close with U.S. permission. And all this time Dr. Shakil Afridi has been sitting in a jail cell in Pakistan.
Dr. Afridi was sent by the U.S. Government to visit the compound where we suspected Osama bin Laden was hiding out. No one could enter the building where the terrorist was reported to be. Dr. Afridi canvassed the area to administer polio vaccinations. He got DNA samples from some of the children in the compound that showed the compound was inhabited by children of bin Laden. The U.S. raised their probability that bin Laden was at the site.
After the successful raid, and bin Laden was killed and positively identified, the Obama Administration took credit for the successful attack. They went to great detail about the specifics of the raid and the intelligence that led up to the raid. President Obama went to great lengths to show his knowledge of the operation by going into great detail.
Pakistan was upset they were given no prior notice of the attack. When word of Afridi’s assistance to the operation was explained by Obama, he was arrested in July of 2011 by the Pakistani Government. A year later, he was convicted of aiding a banned Islamic group, Lashkar-e-Islam. This was a sham conviction. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
The Obama Administration protested the trumped up conviction and demanded his release. Congress even passed legislation withholding funds from Pakistan. However, we need Pakistan for support against some of the radical Islamic groups, so the funds were later released.
In August of 2013, the conviction was overturned on a technicality. Before he was retried, in November of 2013, he was charged with murder. Dr. Afridi had treated a patient in 1999 who died.
Dr. Afridi has been kept in solitary confinement since that date. His family, and his current attorney have not been able to see him in several years.
All attempts to free him have stopped. He is a forgotten man. What other foreign nationals will be willing to assist us when our own government released his name to the world when taking credit for the bin Laden kill. Shakil Afridi has been left to rot in jail. The Pakistani Government has said not to “lionize” the doctor as he has worked for several terrorist groups.
Afridi’s family has been in hiding. He has a wife, two sons and a daughter. They have fled their home because after President Obama released his name, and described his part in the location and killing of bin Laden, al Qaeda has sworn revenge on the Doctor and his family. They have been financially supported by other family members, but their location has been kept secret. They have asked for relocation to the United States but those requests have fallen on deaf ears by the Obama Administration.
Afridi’s original attorney, Samiullah Afridi, a cousin, fled Pakistan under death threats, and was killed in March of 2015, when he returned to Pakistan to liquidate some assets.
America does not leave our own behind. We just don’t do that, period. Maybe Obama does, but not the America that I know and love. Shakil Afridi may have worked with radical groups, I don’t know. I do know we should not abandon him to spend the rest of his days in prison for helping us. America is better than that.
Dr. Afridi should be released and brought to the United States with his family. The new Trump Administration should stop at nothing to gain his freedom. Donald Trump is coming into office as a wild card. The Obama Administration has projected Trump as unpredictable and a loose cannon to the world. The incoming President could use that as a plus to gain Afridi’s release.