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Lashkar-i-Islam denies links with Shakeel Afridi

May 31, 2012

This photograph taken on July 22, 2010 shows Dr Shakeel Afridi attending a Malaria control campaign in the Khyber tribal region. — Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: The militants accused in a Pakistan court of conspiring with a doctor recruited by the CIA to find Osama bin Laden said Thursday they had nothing to do with him.

Shakeel Afridi was on May 24 sentenced to 33 years in jail after he was found guilty of treason under Pakistan's system of tribal justice.

Afridi was convicted by the court of treason under the penal code, but for alleged ties to Lashkar-i-Islam and not for working for the CIA.

Lashkar-i-Islam, led by bus conductor turned warlord Mangal Bagh, is a militant organisation feared for kidnappings and extortion in his home district of Khyber.

The court order said Afridi had “close links” to the group, saying the doctor's “love” for Bagh and “association with him was an open secret”.

But a commander in the organisation told AFP that they had nothing to do with Afridi.

“We have no link to such a shameless man,” the commander said on condition of anonymity.

The court said Afridi paid two million rupees ($21,000) to Lashkar-i-Islam and helped to provide medical assistance to militant commanders in Khyber.

But the commander said the $21,000 was a fine imposed for over-charging patients.

“Afridi and his fellow doctor were fleecing tribesmen, giving them fake medicines and doing fake surgeries. We had a lot of complaints against them and imposed a fine of two million rupees on them,” he said.

Local residents have also told AFP that Bagh fined Afridi for performing “unnecessary surgeries and over-charging” patients at his private clinic in the town of Bara.