The jailed Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden is in quite the bind: if he stays inside his Peshawar prison, his fellow inmates won't hesitate to take him out, if he gets released, the Taliban will assassinate him. While the CIA and members of Congress call Dr. Shakil Afridi a hero for leading intelligence officials to the world's most wanted terrorist, the doctor's safety remains tenuous at best. The latest threat on Afridi's life came last night when Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Indian news portal Rediff they would kill him. "We want Afridi cut in pieces; Osama bin Ladin was our hero and Afridi helped the US to kill him. He is our enemy and he is wajib-ul-qatal (deserving death)," he said. "We believe that after some time, Afridi [will] be safely shifted to the US."
The ominous threat follows a report on Wednesday that Pakistani authorities fear that Afridi could be killed by inmates at his Peshawar prison. “We have requested the federal government to move Dr Afridi from Peshawar to another jail. We fear he could be attacked,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for the local province, in an interview with AFP. “There are more than 3,000 prisoners here and 250 of them are incarcerated on terror charges. These diehard militants could attack Afridi." Without citing specifics, the minister told the news agency that intelligence sources warned about a potential attack on the jail, which should arouse concerns given Pakistan's notorious inability to keep its prisons secure. "We do not want a replay of the recent jail break in Bannu," he said, in reference to the April 15 escape of almost 400 prisoners during an armed attack.
According to a Pakistani intelligence report obtained by News Track India, the prison is also in a vulnerable location given its proximity to a Taliban stronghold:
The location and accessibility of the prison makes it an easy target for the Taliban. Flanked on one side by the Grand Trunk Road, and the other three sides by the congested area of Saddar, the jail can easily be targeted by militants, especially those from the adjoining Khyber Agency, the report says.
According to reports, Afridi will likely be moved, but it hasn't happened yet, which is likely making Dr. Afridi and his supporters in Congress and the CIA very nervous.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.