By Dominic Di-Natale – Published September 10, 2012 – FoxNews.com
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistan’s powerful spy agency regards America as its “worst enemy,” and the government’s claims that it is cooperating with the US are a sham to extract billions of dollars in American aid, according to the CIA informant jailed for his role in hunting down Usama bin Laden.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Shakil Afridi, the medical doctor who helped pinpoint bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound before last year’s raid by SEAL Team 6, described brutal torture at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, and said the agency is openly hostile to the U.S.
“They said ‘The Americans are our worst enemies, worse than the Indians,’” Afridi, who spoke from inside Peshawar Central Jail, said as he recalled the brutal interrogation and torture he suffered after he was initially detained.
“I tried to argue that America was Pakistan’s biggest supporter – billions and billions of dollars in aid, social and military assistance — but all they said was, ‘These are our worst enemies. You helped our enemies.’”
The ISI, Afridi said, helps fund the Haqqani network, the North Waziristan-based militant group that was last week designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The agency also works against the U.S. by preventing the CIA from interrogating militants captured by Pakistan, who are routinely released to return to Afghanistan to continue attacks on NATO forces there.
“It is now indisputable that militancy in Pakistan is supported by the ISI […] Pakistan’s fight against militancy is bogus. It’s just to extract money from America,” Afridi said, referring to the $23 billion Pakistan has received largely in military aid since 9/11.
Afridi gave unprecedented insight into activity inside the infamous basement prison where he was initially held beneath the ISI’s headquarters at Apbara, in the capital Islamabad. He described how during his own interrogation, in which he was tortured with cigarette burns and electric shocks, ISI officers attacked him for assisting the U.S. Afridi helped pinpoint Bin Laden’s compound in the weeks before the May 2, 2011, raid in Abbottabad.
He described a regime of perpetual torture and interrogation for large numbers of detainees, some of whom include radicalized white Western male converts to Islam who had been apprehended while traveling to Afghanistan to fight NATO troops or to be trained in militant camps in the region’s tribal belt.
One of the officers who interrogated him had also escorted an American official visiting from Washington to an interview with a highly sought militant Abdul Karim Agha, in November 2011.
Agha had told him afterward that an ISI officer had whispered instructions in his ear as he walked into the interrogation room to feign sudden illness so he could not be interviewed.
“They said to him, ‘You tell this person ‘I am very sick, I cannot talk today,’” he related. “The American official protested, saying he’d only been given a week to stay in Pakistan with the expectation of interrogating him two or three times. But the ISI told him that the interrogation was postponed for three weeks, and so he had to leave.
“I was told by others that the ISI advises militants to make things up to tell CIA interrogators, pretend this and that,” Afridi told Fox News.
Afridi’s comments are likely to further complicate relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, which have become strained in the past two years over their joint fight against extremist militants.
Washington has repeatedly pressured Islamabad to eradicate extremist safe havens in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, most recently the Haqqani Network, the fundamentalist group closely allied to the Taliban and the remnants of Al Qaeda’s original leadership.
Afridi said that before he was moved to Peshawar in May, he met Abdul Kayyum, the nephew of a chief of the Wazir tribe, who had been apprehended by the ISI for reasons that are unclear.
Kayyum explained to the doctor that three years earlier, his uncle, Khan Marjakee, had been instructed by the ISI to raise funds from the tribal community for the Haqqanis, which Marjakee then did.
“Without doubt, the Haqqanis are 100 percent supported by the ISI,” said Afridi.
Afridi said there were many militants of different nationalities, often Afghans, held at Apbarra. Arab detainees were given “first-class treatment and first-class food,” while some radicalized Westerners were singled out for abuse.
“The militants were told by the ISI, ‘According to the Americans, we’re supposed to arrest you. We don’t want anything to do with you, but will support you by letting you go. Go back to Afghanistan and steer clear of the Americans.’ And then they would be released.”
Among other detainees at Apbarra were numerous white Westerners, identified as being from the U.S., U.K., Germany and the Netherlands. Afridi would talk to an American, referred to only as Brown, as the doctor was the only person who spoke fluent English there.
Brown was held for four months after he crossed illegally into Pakistan from Iran and was arrested in the southwest city of Quetta, notorious for its links with the Taliban. He had told the ISI he was on his way to Afghanistan.
“He was white skinned, had red hair and tattoos,” Afridi said. “He was a mason by profession and told me he came for jihad. He had converted to Islam five years before and had adopted the Muslim name Ismael.
“When he came back from interrogation, he told me he had been beaten very seriously. I last saw him on May 1. I have no idea what happened to him.”
After holding Afridi for 12 months, the ISI produced a report on his involvement with the CIA and the vaccination drive that was unsuccessfully used as a decoy to obtain DNA samples from those living inside Usama bin Laden’s compound at Abbottabad in northern Pakistan.
He strongly denied confessing anything to the various army majors in the ISI who questioned him during his months of interrogation.
“I was told stories about what to say as statements and forced to write statements,” he said. “When I refused, the major said, ‘When we give you pain, then you will write.’”