In this age of GPS signals, Foursquare check-ins and iPhone tracking, how did America’s most-wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, stay hidden for almost a decade? A better question would ask how he was found, for that is the reason the world is rejoicing today.
Despite hiding in plain sight of a police station and military headquarters in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Bin Laden’s million-dollar mansion – eight times larger than the mansions surrounding it – was stormed in a raid last night. US officials had tracked one of Bin Laden’s trusted right-hand men, a courier, after he was identified by detainees captured after 9/11, and discovered he lived with his brother in an “extraordinarily unique compound”, which “harboured a high-value terrorist target,” according to various senior administration officials.
It was the fact that this mysteriously large mansion lacked a phone line or internet connection that ultimately made officials believe something was amiss. With all the riches in the world, could they not afford a connection? Other details soon began causing suspicion too – trash was burned instead of put out for collectors, like their neighbours did. What was this three-storey mansion hiding?
Whatever it was hiding, they were hiding it well: security measures included mammoth walls up to 5.5m in height, laced with barbed wire, along with internal walls that gave the compound a maze-like quality. There were few windows according to officials, which no doubt masked the third family living with the courier and his brother – Osama Bin Laden, and his youngest wife.
After the US military entered the compound in a 40-minute long raid, five adults were killed in the firefight: Osama; his son; the courier and his brother, and a woman who may or may not be Bin Laden’s wife. Details are still trickling out now about the raid, and how Bin Laden was discovered, but one thing’s certain: this sadly won’t be the last time terrorism rears its ugly head. [The Guardian and JPost and Boing Boing and ABC]