Most Americans remember where they were on 9/11/2001.
I was performing eye surgery in Bowling Green, Ky. I walked out of surgery and into a patient’s room to find a scene of horror being played on the television screen.
I also remember where I was on May 2, 2011, when SEAL Team 6 infiltrated Osama bin Laden’s compound and killed him. Americans were very proud of SEAL Team 6 and of our entire military for finally capturing and killing this mass murderer.
In the weeks leading up to that attack on the compound by SEAL Team 6, there was a doctor in Pakistan who helped us determine bin Laden’s exact location. Doctors are not soldiers. We’re taught to heal and to help. Dr. Shakil Afridi helped the only way he knew how — through the use of his medical practice.
Dr. Afridi is a Pakistani doctor who risked his life to provide us with information that confirmed the location of the compound that housed bin Laden and his family. Dr. Afridi set up what ostensibly was a vaccination clinic near the bin Laden home and urged the children of the house to come and be vaccinated. While they were there, he took DNA swabs from their mouths and was able to confirm that they were direct relatives of Osama bin Laden.
This was what our military and civilian leaders needed to order the raid. The information provided by Dr. Afridi directly led to bin Laden’s death.
He should be rewarded or, at the very least, congratulated. Instead, Dr. Afridi is in prison in Pakistan for the alleged crime of treason for his cooperation with American intelligence agencies.
This man, who is a hero and should be praised, congratulated and rewarded, has been put in prison for 33 years for helping America catch the mass murderer Osama bin Laden.
This is shameful. It is not what we should expect or tolerate from a supposed ally of the United States. I think this is a tragedy and Congress should take decisive action.
What I find particularly troubling is that the United States continues to give money to Pakistan. More than $1 billion of taxpayer money is sent to Pakistan. It troubles me that we’re sending $1 billion to a country that imprisons the gentleman who was brave enough to help us capture bin Laden.
We should not reward bad behavior. But that is what we’ve done with foreign aid for many years.
Look at the examples throughout the past 30 years of the different dictators to whom we have given money.
We gave Hosni Mubarak, the military dictator of Egypt, more than $60 billion. Mr. Mubarak was one of the richest men in the world, yet he was enriched at your expense.
Look at Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo. He was given billions of dollars and was entertained by American leaders, yet at one time he owned seven of the largest palaces in the world — all paid for with your money. What did the people of Congo have? They did not have running water or electricity. This “aid” was not helping the people in Congo but instead making rich autocrats richer in Third World countries.
Look at Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He tortures his opposition, confiscates land and essentially ran his country into the ground, yet we’ve provided him with billions of dollars.
When will America learn that we cannot buy good behavior? We cannot reward autocrats or leaders who torture their people. We should not send $1 billion to Pakistan while it imprisons a hero who helped us capture bin Laden.
It’s a travesty of justice that Pakistan is holding Dr. Afridi for the made-up crime of helping America. I do not understand why it is being tolerated.
We send Pakistan $2 billion a year. Recently, instead of withholding that, Mr. Obama has given the Pakistanis an additional $1 billion. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. I have a bill that will withhold all further foreign aid to Pakistan unless this doctor is released.
Reports from the information minister in the province where Dr. Afridi is being held claim the doctor’s life has been threatened by fellow inmates and the community. My concern is that Dr. Afridi may well be killed before he comes to trial. He was scheduled for an appeal on July 19, but the appeal was rescheduled to August.
I have a bill and all the signatures necessary to force a vote when Congress returns on withholding foreign aid to Pakistan until Dr. Afridi is released. Additionally, I have refused to consent to the appointment of our ambassador to Pakistan until this vote is allowed to happen. This is a serious matter that is not being dealt with by the Obama administration or the Senate, and I will use every possible tool to see justice done or aid cut off.
Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican.