CIA Fake Vaccination Drive For Bin Laden DNA

So the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive in Pakistan in an attempt to get bin Laden family DNA. What could possibly go wrong?

So the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive in Pakistan in an attempt to get bin Laden family DNA. What could possibly go wrong?

Guardian (“CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA“):

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.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor’s arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor’s safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.

The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.

DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.

Given the state of US-Pakistani relations, I can live with the government not trusting us. After all, we don’t trust them.

But doesn’t a fake vaccination drive have rather predictable fallout? That is, won’t poor people in other countries now be even more suspicious of Western health efforts? Were the people at least given real vaccines here?

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Quick Takes, World Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    It didn’t work, but only because Osama didn’t want to catch teh autism.

  2. mantis says:

    @Franklin:

    It didn’t work, but only because Osama didn’t want to catch teh autism.

    He was a big Jenny McCarthy fan.

  3. Tod says:

    Read the comments by Matt at the end of this article about the polio vaccine virus reverting to a virulent form in Nigeria and how the shabby way the western public health community treated Nigerians radicalized them politically. Trust me, the CIA can make things no worse as far as feelings towards the western public health community with their patronizing ‘just shut up and take your vaccine’ attitude.

    http://www.virology.ws/2009/08/17/poliovirus-type-2-returns/

  4. Frank says:

    Only the worst sort of fascist governments have used vaccines as weapons, so nobody needs to fear the US making a leap to that from simply using them for covertly gathering blood samples.

    http://www.auschwitz.dk/Bullenhuser.htm
    “The children were told that they had to be vaccinated against typhoid fever before their return journey….”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/25/world/cashiered-soldier-in-argentina-tells-of-death-flights-by-army.html
    “As with the navy flights, prisoners were made unconscious with drugs beforehand. They were told they were being vaccinated before being handed over to the courts.”

    Now if you search “CDC” and “Tuskegee” you’ll see that worries about the public health community violating the Nuremberg code are reasonable. (After all, do you ever hear them protesting the use of torture? Nope, but mess with their vaccine campaign and all heck breaks out.)