Pakistani Taliban kills Dr. Afridi’s lawyer

The spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, the jihadist faction that recently rejoined the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said that his group killed Samiullah Afridi, Dr Shakil Afridi’s lawyer. Shakil is the doctor who aided the CIA in the hunt for al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden through his vaccination program. Bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, issued the following Tweet earlier today:

Samiullah Afridi was gunned down in Peshawar today. According to Dawn, he had just returned to Pakistan after he and his family left the country for three months. He “repeatedly received threatening calls forcing him to drop Dr Shakil Afridi’s case and move abroad for his safety.”

Dr. Shakil Afridi is currently serving a 33-year-long prison sentence for treason. A tribal court claimed he supported Mangal Bagh, the head of Lashkar-e-Islam, a jihadist group that operates in Khyber. The treason charge with respect to Mangal Bagh is trumped up, however, as he was detained days after bin Laden’s death and a probe of Shakil’s vaccination program by Pakistani investigators. The Associated Press reported in October 2011 that “The Pakistani commission investigating the raid [on Osama bin Laden’s compound] said in a statement that that Dr. Afridi should be charged with
‘conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason’ on the basis of the evidence it had gathered.”

Additionally, it is highly unlikely that Afridi would work for both Lashkar-e-Islam and the CIA. Lashkar-e-Islam was closely allied with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda during the time of his arrest. Those ties were demonstrated last week when Lashkar-e-Islam joined forces with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. [See LWJ report, Pakistani jihadist groups, Lashkar-i-Islam merge into the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.]

The murder of Samiullah will make it all the less likely that Dr. Shakil Afridi will ever get a chance to appeal his prison sentence for his role in helping find Osama bin Laden.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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