WASHINGTON — The CIA ran a phony vaccination program in the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden's family was believed to be living in an effort to obtain DNA evidence indicating whether the al-Qaida leader was there, The New York Times reported.
An American official said the Pakistani doctor who ran the program in Abbottabad gained temporary access to the bin Laden compound, but never saw bin Laden himself and failed to obtain DNA samples from bin Laden family members, the Times reported Monday.Story: US drones kill 45 in Pakistan, officials say
A team of Navy SEALs killed bin Laden during a raid in May. U.S. officials have said they were not certain bin Laden was in the compound in Abbottabad when President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for the operation.
Dr. Shakil Afridi, who ran the vaccination program, has been arrested and held in Pakistani custody because of his suspected collaboration with the U.S., the Times reported.
The CIA declined to comment on the Times report when contacted by The Associated Press.
The vaccination program was first reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper.
The Guardian said it was not known how the DNA would have been obtained, but suggested some blood could have been taken in the syringe after the vaccine was injected.
"The whole thing was totally irregular," a Pakistani official told the paper. "Bilal Town is a well-to-do area. Why would you choose that place to give free vaccines? And what is the official surgeon of Khyber doing working in Abbottabad?"Story: Doctor: I treated children from bin Laden house
The bin Laden raid was kept secret from Pakistani officials, which has strained U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Bin Laden's ability to live for years in Abbottabad has led to speculation in the U.S. that some elements of the Pakistani government knew of his whereabouts.Slideshow: After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound (on this page)
The Obama administration is suspending $800 million of the $2 billion in aid it has designated for the Pakistan military .
Citing difficulties with Pakistan, White House chief of staff William Daley said Sunday that "they've taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we're giving to the military, and we're trying to work through that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.