- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan American investigators are questioning a prominent Pakistani surgeon whom they believe gave Osama bin Laden medical treatment after he escaped from his hiding place in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.
They suspect that Amir Aziz, 46, a British-trained orthopedic surgeon, can help solve the mystery of whether the world's most wanted man is still alive.
Dr. Aziz was arrested in Lahore two weeks ago by Pakistani military intelligence and FBI agents after al Qaeda prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave his name during interrogations.
Dr. Aziz was a regular visitor to Afghanistan and was close to the Taliban leadership. He helped set up a medical college in Kandahar.
According to colleagues, he first operated on bin Laden two years ago. He was in the country during the American bombing and treated senior Taliban members who were injured in fighting in the north before they escaped.
FBI officials believe that he treated bin Laden again in December after the terrorist leader's escape from the American bombardment of Tora Bora into the tribal areas of Pakistan.
"We are pretty sure [bin Laden] had been wounded in the chest from the way his arm was hanging in his last video message," said one investigator. "We know he had a kidney complaint. We don't know whether he was fit enough to be on the run or just lay wounded in a cave somewhere and maybe died there. How long could he survive without a dialysis machine? We believe his doctor can tell us."
The detention of Dr. Aziz has caused outrage in Pakistan, particularly among his medical colleagues, some of whom wrote to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday demanding that he intervene.
"As a doctor, he is pledged to extend his medical help to whomsoever, irrespective of creed or color," said Tanvir al Hasan Zubeiri, chairman of the committee working for Dr Aziz's release.
Dr. Aziz, son of an army colonel, studied in Scotland at Glasgow and Edinburgh and earned a master's degree in surgery at London University before returning to Lahore in the 1980s. He quickly became known as the city's top orthopedic surgeon, treating the Pakistani cricket team and supporting the hospital built by the former cricket captain turned politician, Imran Khan.
The family of Dr. Aziz insisted on Saturday that he was being held under false pretences and urged the American authorities to tell them where he is being held and let them speak to him.
In a related development, Iran said yesterday it had arrested and deported one of Osama bin Laden's sons who entered the country illegally two months ago.
"He was one of 20 people who were arrested and immediately expelled from Iran around two months ago," government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh told Reuters news agency.
A source close to the government said those arrested had been expelled to Pakistan.
The identity of the son, reportedly one of 20 fathered by bin Laden, was not revealed.
One of the sons, Sa'ad bin Laden, who is in his 20s, would be of interest to U.S. authorities because officials believe he is active in the al Qaeda organization.
A U.S. intelligence official in Washington told Reuters there was no information to indicate that Pakistan had Sa'ad bin Laden in custody.

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