Shakil Afridi talks with people outside a building at an unknown location in Pakistan.—Reuters Photo
Shakil Afridi talks with people outside a building at an unknown location in Pakistan.—Reuters Photo

WASHINGTON: Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA nail Osama bin Laden, told a US television channel that the ISI considered America Pakistan’s “worst enemy”.

Fox News claimed that its correspondent had conduc-ted the interview in the Peshawar Centre Jail, and quoted Dr Afridi as saying that he suffered “brutal interrogation and torture” when arrested.

“I tried to argue that America was Pakistan’s biggest supporter – billions and billions of dollars in aid, social and military assistance – but all they said was, ‘These are our worst enemies. You helped our enemies’.”

The news channel broadcast only the transcript of the purported exclusive, but did not indicate whether it was a video or audio interview. It also does not say how its reporter managed to enter the jail or meet Dr Afridi.

According to Fox, Mr Afridi accused the ISI of funding militants.

“It is now indisputable that militancy in Pakistan is supported by the ISI … Pakistan’s fight against militancy is bogus. It’s just to extract money from America,” he said.

Dr Afridi claimed that he was first detained in the basement of ISI’s headquarters in Aabpara, Islamabad, where he was tortured with cigarette burns and electric shocks and ISI officers attacked him for assisting the US.

He also described “a regime of perpetual torture and interrogation for large numbers of detainees”, some of whom include white western male converts to Islam caught while travelling to Afghanistan to fight Nato troops or to join militant camps in Fata.

One of the officers who interrogated him had also escorted an American official visiting from Washington to an interview with a highly sought militant, Abdul Karim Agha, in November 2011.

Agha had later told him that an ISI officer had whispered instructions in his ear as he walked into the interrogation room to feign sudden illness so he could not be interviewed.

“I was told by others that the ISI advises militants to make things up to tell CIA interrogators, pretend this and that,” Fox News quoted Dr Afridi as saying.

Dr Shakil Afridi said before he was moved to Peshawar in May, he met Abdul Kayyum, the nephew of a chief of the Wazir tribe, who had been apprehended by the ISI for reasons that were unclear.

Dr Afridi said there were many militants of different nationalities, often Afghans, held at Aabpara.

Arab detainees were given “first-class treatment and first-class food”, while some radicalised westerners were singled out for abuse.

“The militants were told by the ISI, ‘According to the Americans, we’re supposed to arrest you. We don’t want anything to do with you, but will support you by letting you go. Go back to Afghanistan and steer clear of the Americans.’ And then they would be released.”

Dr Afridi said he also spoke to an American detainee called Brown who was held for four months after he crossed illegally into Pakistan from Iran and was arrested in Quetta.

Dr Afridi said his CIA handlers had advised him to flee to Afghanistan, where he and his family would be taken care of but he didn’t believe it was necessary to escape.

“I have a lot of respect and love for your people,” Dr Afridi told Fox News, adding that he was “proud to work with” the CIA.

“My bank account was looted [by the ISI while being held], making me bankrupt. I need financial, legal and diplomatic help,” Dr Afridi said.

“My situation is very grim. I earned millions of rupees (tens of thousands of dollars) a year and supported my family and that of my brother. All of that is lost.”

Since his arrest, his family collectively has suffered $160,000 in lost income, legal fees and living costs, an entire life’s fortune by Pakistani standards, the doctor said.

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