Pakistan: CIA “Bin Laden” Unit’s Fake Vaccination Ploy Sparked Polio Crisis

(By Sarah Lazare)

A Pakistani official on Thursday slammed the CIA's fake vaccination drive in 2011 for fueling distrust of polio eradication campaigns and driving "attacks on polio workers" as the country grapples with an outbreak of this highly infectious disease.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing, a spokesperson for Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs took direct aim at the CIA's false vaccination campaign, which was conducted as part of the hunt for Osama Bin Ladin and exposed by the Guardian in 2011.

"A fake campaign of vaccination was conducted in Pakistan in which the [International NGOs] were also used," said the spokesperson, according to a transcript from the Pakistani government. "I am referring to Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s case. This further reinforced the negative perception about the agenda behind the polio eradication campaign."

With the help of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, the CIA orchestrated a fake hepatitis B vaccination drive in a poor neighborhood of Abbottabad in a ruse to obtain information and DNA from Bin Laden's family to determine the Al-Qaeda leader's location.

Revelations of the plot sparked skepticism and anger towards legitimate health workers attempting to administer vaccinations, causing them to be driven out of villages, banned by some Taliban factions, and attacked and killed at escalating rates. Local opposition to vaccination efforts remains a key barrier to broad administration of the vaccine.

Usman, a father of four living in a slum of Pakistan's Bhains Colony, told FT Magazine that, because of the Abbottabad incident, he refused to vaccinate his son Musharaf. At the age of two, Musharaf became the first polio casualty of 2013. “If the incident in Abbottabad did not happen, and these rumors didn’t spread to us, we would have continued the vaccinations as we had been," he said.

Despite the near-eradication of polio across the globe, Pakistan remains one of three countries where the highly disease is endemic.

This week, the World Health Organization declared that rising polio infections in Pakistan are spreading to other countries, sparking a "public health emergency" on a global scale. The body recommended that all Pakistani residents show proof of vaccination before leaving the country.

Of the 74 new polio cases documented by the WHO this year, 59 of them were in Pakistan.

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5 Responses

  1. I’m not sure I believe anything the Pakistani government says, considering that they were harboring bin Laden.

    • I bet the “government” of Pakistan is at least as fragmented and internally dissentational and corrupt as our very own. Which part(s) of that mashup is(are) one supposed to believe, assuming that anything anyone with any power and wealth utters in the world any more is in any way true or honest or worthy of credibility? “We” harbored and transported, and set up in new lives in a lot of places, all kinds of war criminals and horror-makers, like a raft of Nazi and even Japanese Serious War Criminals (not to mention our own, Cheney et al.) and lied about it. Our sneaky-petes and Expeditionary Forces have been “spreading democracy,” spreading it very thin and dead indeed, by running over it with heavy trucks and tanks and blasting and suborning the apparent will of ordinary people in regard to their legitimate governance for over a century, teaching the fine arts of torture and repression, arming and payrolling “freedom fighters” like the Contras and even bin Laden and, of course, “enemy of my enemy” Saddam Hussein. Cue up another $4 trillion, Mr. Ordinary Taxpayer…

      SOMEbody was harboring bin Laden, after our Rulers decided that “getting” him was unimportant, not so very long ago. link to Here’s Would-Be President Romney’s position(s) on the Osama Issue: link to Were you lying then, or are you lying now?

      Gary Trudeau has been lampooning the CIA spooookery for years, to no effect of course. Here’s a congruent observation on what the Really Special Field Dudes are doing to Protect The Homeland over there in Yemen: “The CIA’s Bro Culture Is Doing Yemen No Favors,” link to Not sure how or what the larger plays the CIA and NSA and related idiocies are doing have anything to do with making the world any healthier or safer for ordinary people anywhere — seems like mostly it’s about prolonging the “success” of Extractive Capitalism or whatever it should properly be called, and upward wealth transfer. But Oakley reflectors ain’t remotely related to that ordinary-people concern… “We Meant Well…” link to

      The Big Things that the War Department and our State Security Thing are doing to, on, over, under and across the planet now “transcend” any kind of “national” concern (except in the Game of “Redefinition,” of course) — off in their own bubble, immune to restraint or consequences, for the benefit of post-supra-transnational corporate “interests,” self-promotion and generalized oligarchy.

      Yeah. let’s cheer for Our Tribe — we’re the Good Guys, right? Or maybe Less Bad? Or maybe not…

  2. karachi ahab

    @evo8X8 Rubbish! It exacerbated and gave more reason. The Taliban have considered polio drops against Islam since much before 2011.

  3. If true, heads should roll and top executives and those envolved should be tried by the UN world court and sent to prison.

    Obama should be held responsible since I’m sure that such a dangerous plan had to be approved by him.

    Tired of the corrupt US government and all its illegal wars.

  4. It must be comforting for the Pakistanis to know they are not at all responsible for any of the dysfunction in their country.

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