Grant Pakistani Hero Citizenship, Gold Meda
Washington, Feb 16 - The Pakistani doctor who helped Navy SEALs bring down Usama bin Laden and got locked up for his trouble deserves U.S. citizenship and a medal, according to a lawmaker.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) introduced a bill that would make Dr. Shakeel Afridi an American citizen in return for his work gathering intelligence that helped U.S. forces locate and kill the world's most-wanted terrorist last May. Rohrabacher also intends to recommend Afridi for the Congressional Gold Medal later this week.
“We are trying to honor him because he helped bring the man responsible for killing nearly 3,000 Americans to justice,” Rohrabacher told FoxNews.com. “He did so at a great personal risk. He deserves our deepest gratitude.”
Afridi is currently being held for treason by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency and could possibly face the death penalty for his role in helping Americans mount a raid within Pakistan. Reports also suggest that his wife, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, has disappeared.
Enactment of the bill would mean Afridi could be visited by diplomats who would work to ensure his fair treatment.
“We will be able to open the door by helping him with the Pakistanis who are holding him against his will,” Rohrabacher said.
Afridi gained access to Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound by conducting a vaccination drive that allowed him to gather intelligence and pass it on to CIA operatives. But it is not clear that he realized he was being used for the effort.
This month, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised Afridi for his work and called upon Pakistan to free him.
"I'm very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual," Panetta said in the CBS interview. “This was an individual who, in fact, helped provide intelligence on -- that was very helpful with regards to this operation. And he was not in any way treasonous toward Pakistan. He was not in any way doing anything that would have undermined Pakistan."
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