In the months before US forces raided Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, the CIA created a fake Hepatitis B vaccination campaign to obtain DNA from Bin Laden or one of his family members. Public health workers say the sham drive could harm legitimate vaccination efforts by giving credence to conspiracy theories in the developing world, where suspicion of vaccines is widespread
In Pakistan, the scheme played upon existing fears, where in 2007, clerics spread a rumor that a Polio vaccination campaign was a cover for a US plot to sterilize Muslims. As a result, 24,000 parents refused to vaccinate their children, causing Polio deaths to rise, ScienceInsider reports.
A senior Pakistani doctor headed the elaborate ruse, and even started the project in poorer parts of Abbottabad to make it look authentic. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has been detained by the Pakistani Intelligence Service. Not surprisingly, the CIA isn’t talking, but one source told The Guardian that the plan didn’t succeed.