Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad

Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad

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Osama bin Laden's compound, known locally as the Waziristan Haveli ' onMouseout='HidePop("61520")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Haveli">haveli
Haveli
Haveli is the term used for a private mansion in India and Pakistan. The word haveli is derived from the Persian word hawli, meaning "an enclosed place"...

means "mansion
Mansion
A mansion is a very large dwelling house. U.S. real estate brokers define a mansion as a dwelling of over . A traditional European mansion was defined as a house which contained a ballroom and tens of bedrooms...

" and Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

 is a region in Pakistan), is the safe house
Safe house
In the jargon of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, a safe house is a secure location, suitable for hiding witnesses, agents or other persons perceived as being in danger...

 in which Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 was hiding when he was killed
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

. The structure is located at the end of a dirt road in Abbottabad
Abbottabad
Abbottabad is a city located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in Pakistan. The city is situated in the Orash Valley, northeast of the capital Islamabad and east of Peshawar at an altitude of and is the capital of the Abbottabad District...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. About 35 Miles north of the capital, Islamibad, and just 0.8 miles (1.3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy
Pakistan Military Academy
The Pakistan Military Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service military academy. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan....

 in Bilal Town
Bilal Town
Bilal Town is a wealthy northeastern suburb of Abbottabad, Pakistan. It lies between central Abbottabad and Kakul, where the Pakistan Military Academy is located. The upper middle class neighborhood contains some large, sometimes garish houses and open fields and has a high number of retired...

. The suburban area of Bilal Town is an area housing retired military officers. Bin Laden was reported to have evaded capture living in this house for at least five years, hiding away from the public, who were unaware of his presence.

Completed in 2005, the 38000 square feet (3,530.3 m²) compound lies on a plot of land much larger than those of nearby houses. Its perimeter is 12- to 18-foot (3.7 to 5.5 m) concrete walls topped with barbed wire, and there are two security gates. The compound has very few windows. Little more than five years old, the compound's ramshackle buildings are badly in need of repainting. The grounds contained a well-kept vegetable garden, rabbits, some 100 chickens and a cow.

The house itself does not stand out architecturally from others in the neighborhood, except for its size and exaggerated security measures; for example, the third-floor balcony has a 7-foot (2.1 m) privacy wall. Photographs inside the house showed excessive clutter and modest furnishings. A 3d model of the compound shows, however, that the building was far bigger and more complex than most neighborhood structures.

During the May 2, 2011, raid, 24 U.S. Navy SEAL commandoes arrived by helicopter, breached a wall using explosives, and entered the compound. Encounters between the SEALs and the residents took place in the guest house, in the main building on the first floor where two adult males lived, and on the second and third floors where bin Laden lived with his family.

Architecture



In the urban setting, the architecture of the bin Laden hideout has been called by an architect as "surprisingly permanent – and surprisingly urban" and "sure to join Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's last known address among the most notorious examples of hideout architecture in recent memory". The compound was fortified with many safeguard features intended to confuse would-be invaders, and U.S. officials described the compound as 'extraordinarily unique'. Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 identified the owner as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his...

, who purchased the vacant land for the complex in 2004 and four adjoining lots between 2004 and 2005 for the equivalent of US$48,000.

Constructed between 2003 and 2005, the three-story structure is located on a dirt road
Dirt road
Dirt road is a common term for an unpaved road made from the native material of the land surface through which it passes, known to highway engineers as subgrade material. Dirt roads are suitable for vehicles; a narrower path for pedestrians, animals, and possibly small vehicles would be called a...

 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of the city center of Abbottābad
Abbottabad
Abbottabad is a city located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in Pakistan. The city is situated in the Orash Valley, northeast of the capital Islamabad and east of Peshawar at an altitude of and is the capital of the Abbottabad District...

. The local architect for the project said it was only built and planned for a two-story structure and that the third floor (where bin Laden lived) was built afterwards in an illegal construction. While the compound was assessed by U.S. officials at a value of 1 million, local real-estate agents assess the property value at 250,000. Intelligence reports have indicated that bin Laden may have moved into the complex on 6 January 2006.

On a plot of land much larger than those of nearby houses, it was surrounded by 5.5 metres (18 ft) concrete walls topped with barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

. Apart from its size, it does not stand out from others in the neighborhood and it was not easily seen except from close by. The compound walls are higher than usual in the neighborhood, although nearly all houses in Bilal Town have barbed wire. There were no phones or internet wires running into the compound. Security cameras were found installed, and aerial photographs show several satellite dishes. There were two security gates and the third-floor balcony had a 7 feet (2.1 m) privacy wall. The compound measured 38000 square feet (3,530.3 m²) in size, and had very few windows.

The compound was known as Waziristan Haveli by the local residents, and owned by a transporter from Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

; bin Laden previously spent time in the Waziristan area of Pakistan.

One of the main builders of the compound, Gul Mohammed, was instructed to construct the 5.5 metres (18 ft) high perimeter fence and then to build another wall 7 feet (2.1 m) tall around one of the dwellings. He was suspicious due to the activities of his men, and when he asked why he was asked to build huge-fort like walls, he was told it was none of his business. According to Mohammed, one or two men came to supervise his work and that they were not restrictive with their money. He was to refer to the main occupant of the household as "The Master", even though he never met him.

Furnishings



Despite bin Laden's immense wealth and initial U.S. claims he lived in a luxurious mansion, the compound, though little more than five years old, consisted of ramshackle buildings, badly in need of repainting. The main gate was painted in a dark green color. The Daily Mail said, "with paint peeling off the walls, the dirt-infested compound appears barely habitable and is a far cry from original claims the compound was a sophisticated £1m hideaway". Pictures of inside the house showed excessive clutter, modest furnishings, poor quality foam mattresses, no air conditioning and old televisions. Several of the bedrooms had an attached kitchen and a bathroom. The children from the house were exclusively home schooled, in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

; one of the first floor rooms served as a classroom, with a whiteboard, markers and textbooks.

Food


The self-described brothers of the house known to the neighbors would frequently visit the local shops. They would buy enough food to feed ten people, and purchased "the best brands—Nestle milk, the good-quality soaps and shampoos", Pepsi
Pepsi
Pepsi is a carbonated soft drink that is produced and manufactured by PepsiCo...

 and Coca Cola. The food found at the house by the Pakistani authorities was basic, such as dates, nuts, eggs, olive oil and dried meat. The brothers would visit Rasheed's corner store, about a minute's walk from the house, with young children for whom they bought sweets and soft drinks. They also purchased bread from a local bakery.

Rabbits, some 100 chickens and a cow were reared on the compound grounds. A vegetable garden at the back of the house was well-kept, and Shamraiz, a neighbouring farmer, was paid to plant vegetables about twice a year. Days before the May 2011 raid Shamraiz was called to plough additional ground in the compound using a tractor. He never went inside the house itself.

The compound had an adjacent grazing area that hosted cows and a buffalo as well as a deep water well, possibly allowing it a water supply separate from the local municipality. There was a small garden on the north side of the house that included poplar trees. A farmer's field growing cabbages and potatoes surrounded the compound on three sides, and cannabis
Cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 (which grows wild in the province) grew up to the side of the compound.

Pharmacopeia


According to NBC News, the following drugs and medicines were found at the compound by Pakistani investigators: Tablet, Ulcer Capsule, Tab/Cap Gabapentin, Penza drops, Natrilix, Grucid, Avena
Avena
The oats are a genus of 10-15 species of true grasses . They are native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. One species is widely cultivated elsewhere, and several have become naturalized in many parts of the world...

 syrup, NIFIM
Cefixime
Cefixime is an oral third generation cephalosporin antibiotic. Cefixime is a cephalosporin antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria such as pneumonia; bronchitis; gonorrhea; and ear, lung, throat, and urinary tract infections...

, an antibiotic
Antibiotic
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

, Syp, Tixylax
Tixylix
Tixylix is a range of cough and cold medicines from Novartis.-External links:**...

 (it is used generally for children for chest problems), Brufen and Dettol
Dettol
Dettol is the trade name for a line of liquid and solid antiseptic cleansing products manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser.It is ranked as the 48th most trust brand in India by The Brand Trust Report 2011...

e, an antiseptic
Antiseptic
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction...

.

History



Gulf News
Gulf News
Gulf News is a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates with a December 2009 BPA audited circulation of over 117,036 qualified copies...

 reported that it had previously been used as a safe house
Safe house
In the jargon of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, a safe house is a secure location, suitable for hiding witnesses, agents or other persons perceived as being in danger...

 by Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

, but was no longer being used for this purpose. ISI admitted that this compound was raided in 2003 while under construction as Abu Faraj al-Libbi
Abu Faraj al-Libbi
Abu Faraj al-Libi is an assumed name or nom de guerre of a Libyan alleged to be a senior member of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. His real name is thought to be Mustafa al-'Uzayti. He was arrested by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence on May 2, 2005, in Mardan...

 was suspected of living there. However, this account was disputed by American officials who said that satellite photos show that in 2004 the site was an empty field. The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail is a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, based in Toronto and printed in six cities across the country. With a weekly readership of approximately 1 million, it is Canada's largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star...

reported local police saying that the compound belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen
Hizbul Mujahideen
Hizbul Mujahideen , founded by Ahsan Dar in 1989, is a Kashmiri militant group active in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. Their headquarters are located in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. It is believed the group al-Badr, derived from Hizbul Mujahideen...

, a militant group supported by ISI that is fighting the Indian forces in Kashmir. The compound was believed to be built around the summer of 2005 to late 2006, based on local accounts.

American intelligence officials discovered bin Laden's whereabouts by tracking one of his couriers, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his...

. Information was collected from Guantánamo Bay detainees who gave intelligence officers al-Kuwaiti's pseudonym and said that he was a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2007, U.S. officials discovered the courier's real name and, in 2009, that he lived in Abbottābad. Using satellite photos and intelligence reports, the CIA surmised the inhabitants of the compound. In September, the CIA concluded that the compound was "custom built to hide someone of significance" and that it was very likely that Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 was residing there. Officials surmised that he was living there with his youngest wife. U.S. Intelligence estimates that bin Laden lived in the compound for five or six years, and it has been surmised that he could have moved into the house on 6 January 2006. Bin Laden's wife confirmed to the Pakistani authorities that they had lived in the compound for five years. Prior to moving to this compound they lived in the village of Chak Shah Muhammad
Chak Shah Muhammad
Chak Shah Muhammad is a feudal village in Haripur District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Osama Bin Laden allegedly lived in the village for two and a half years prior to moving to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It has a population of 1500....

, in the nearby Haripur District
Haripur District
Haripur is a district in the Hazara region of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, province of Pakistan with an altitude of around above sea level. Haripur District has the highest Human Development Index of all the districts in the Hazara....

, for nearly two and a half years.

Operation Neptune Spear


Osama bin Laden was killed in Waziristan Haveli on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time
Pakistan Standard Time
Pakistan Time is the time zone for Pakistan. It is 5 hours ahead of GMT/UTC .The only tz database zone is Asia/Karachi.-History:The current Pakistan time was set up at midnight between 29 September and 30 1951...

 by a United States special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 military unit.

The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

 (informally known as DEVGRU or by its former name SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command in conjunction with CIA operatives. The raid on the compound was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid U.S. forces took bin Laden's body to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death.

After the event


The hideout, now under the security control of the Pakistan Police, indicates highly fortified compound walls made of concrete blocks with three gates, zoning the building from the large courtyard and a garden planted with immature fruit trees in front of a collapsed wall. The remains of the Navy SEALs' helicopter that crashed during the U.S. operation were later removed from the site by a tractor.

Police have allowed reporters and locals to approach the wall of the hideaway. The doors are lodged in place, but police did not exert themselves to open them. Pakistan security agencies plan to demolish the compound to prevent it becoming a "sacred building for jihadis".

Local residents



Locals have disclosed details about their interactions with the residents of the compound to an AP journalist in Pakistan. A woman who distributed polio vaccine
Polio vaccine
Two polio vaccines are used throughout the world to combat poliomyelitis . The first was developed by Jonas Salk and first tested in 1952. Announced to the world by Salk on April 12, 1955, it consists of an injected dose of inactivated poliovirus. An oral vaccine was developed by Albert Sabin...

 to the compound said she saw expensive SUVs
Sport utility vehicle
A sport utility vehicle is a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon, but built on a light-truck chassis. It is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability, and with some pretension or ability to be used as an off-road vehicle. Not all four-wheel...

 parked inside. The men received the vaccine and instructed her to leave. A woman in her seventies said that in rainy weather one of the men from the hideaway gave her a ride to the market. Her grandchildren had played with the children living in the house, and received rabbits as presents. One farmer said, "People were skeptical in this neighborhood about this place and these guys. They used to gossip
Gossip
Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others, It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted...

, say they were smugglers or drug dealers. People would complain that even with such a big house they didn't invite the poor or distribute charity." Present at some neighborhood funerals, two men from the compound were "tall, fair skinned and bearded" and self-identified as cousins from elsewhere in the region. If a child's ball went over the fence, the men in the compound did not return that ball; instead they paid the child 100–150 Pakistani rupee
Pakistani rupee
The rupee is the currency of Pakistan. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the State Bank of Pakistan, the central bank of the country. The most commonly used symbol for the rupee is Rs, used on receipts when purchasing goods and services. In Pakistan, the rupee is referred to as the...

s (about US$2–3), many times the value of the ball.

The other members of this compound in Abbottabad, were taken to the ISI's headquarters in Islamabad for questioning.

See also


  • Location of Osama bin Laden
    Location of Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaeda, went into hiding following the start of the War in Afghanistan in order to avoid capture by the United States and its allies for his role in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and having been on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list since 1999...

  • Osama bin Laden's house in Khartoum
    Osama bin Laden's house in Khartoum
    Osama bin Laden's house in Khartoum is a pink and beige brick-and-stucco three-storey house on Al-Mashtal Street in the affluent Al-Riyadh quarter of Khartoum, Sudan, where Osama bin Laden lived between 1991 and 1996.-Background:...



External links