Know thy neighbour: Living next door to Osama bin Laden

Published: May 5, 2011

Pakistani security personnel measure a wall outside the hideout house of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. PHOTO: AFP

ABBOTABAD: 

Abdul Samad, 24, is still in a state of shock. He could never have imagined that the world’s most wanted man, with a head money of $25 million, was living right next door.

He lives just a few yards away from the compound where Osama bin Laden had been hiding for the past many months.

“It was a horrific night. We were all woken up in the middle of the night by the thunderous noise of helicopters and gunshots,” Abdul Samad said, recalling the time US’ forces raided his neighbourhood.

“We came out to see what exactly happened. Our initial reaction was that some terrorist attack might have occurred,” he told The Express Tribune. But then we were asked to go back to our homes by uniformed men, who were speaking Pashtu, he added.

The compound, just a mile from the Pakistan Military Academy, is spread over an area of 3,000 square yards and has 12-foot high boundary walls.

Located at the end of a dirt road, it has now been sealed by security officials. The bullet-riddled walls indicate the intensity and ferocity of the operation.

Locals of the area, however, had little idea about the occupants of the compound.

“We do not know who lives here. The residents of this house had never been in contact with us,” said Habibur Rehman, who lives in the same street where Bin Laden lived.

“We rarely saw residents of this house. There was one clean shaven-man, who used to take the children out to a nearby shop. The man seemed to be Afghan,” he added.

Some locals pointed fingers at the authorities for failing to keep an eye on the building, which has a unique structure given the other housing facilities in the town.

“The construction of high walls with barbed wires is not allowed by the Cantonment Board,” said another resident. “This house is built in complete violation of the building codes of the area. We are not allowed to raise our boundary wall beyond a certain level, so how was this building overlooked?” he said.

Speaking fluent English, another local Muhammad Imran said he had little doubt that the man living behind the high walls was indeed Osama bin Laden.

“It is a big relief that he has gone, but the fact that he was shot dead here in Abbottabad is shameful for all of us,” he lamented.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Chilli
    May 5, 2011 - 10:34AM

    We are being fooled by everyone especially our government.Recommend

  • aziz bilwany
    May 5, 2011 - 10:39AM

    “The construction of high walls with barbed wires is not allowed by the Cantonment Board,” said another resident. “This house is built in complete violation of the building codes of the area. We are not allowed to raise our boundary wall beyond a certain level, so how was this building overlooked?” he said.

    When will our state decide to cut the cord tying this country to religious savages.When will the powers that be realise that allowing religion free hand to interfer in all aspects of life has devastatingly destructive consequences.

    Isn’t losing thousands of our countrypeople to these mazhabi terrorists enough to convice the powers that be that jinnah was right to create ” The republic of pakistan” and that the subsequent caving into religious blackmail & changing the name to ” The Islamic republic of pakistan” has helped no one ,on the contrary it has led to a society hell bent on promotion of exhibitionist,repetitive,dogmatic religious rituals with no appetite for open & healthy debate & discussion.

    Anyone with even half a functioning brain in our country is accused of having committed blasphemy & as we know the glorious punishment for blasphemy in our religion is death,no one dare speak with rationality & logic.Recommend

  • khan
    May 5, 2011 - 11:10AM

    wake up pakistanis before its too late, these politicians, these generals, and these elite ppl. theres nothing at stake, its ours, our country.Recommend

  • Sawan Shah
    May 5, 2011 - 11:16AM

    Stop Saying “Our Government”

    These are Appointed Regional Manager, by “SomeOne” At Least Not Us.Recommend

  • Raju
    May 5, 2011 - 11:21AM

    No, India will not because US is paying 1Billion $ every year for these adventures while India’s pocket do not allow thisRecommend

  • Raj
    May 5, 2011 - 11:39AM

    Beggar Thy NeighborRecommend

  • John
    May 5, 2011 - 11:49AM

    Even the neighbor knows that something a miss, with the sore thumb wall. But PAK FO says that it is a common practice in this neighborhood. I am looking at the pictures of nearby houses but I do not see any high walls.

    I am trying my level best to believe that PAK army just missed this, but things do not add up.

    Good luck PAK. PAK PM says it is the world’s fault that OBL was found in Pakistan. What more can anyone add. Recommend

  • Ghareebadami
    May 5, 2011 - 3:50PM

    Ghareebadami of Pakistan had stern belief that no one could harm him or his country as the Pakistan Armed Forces were awake to safeguard country’s borders. Ghareebadami feels ashamed and is disappointed over the efficiency, effectiveness and alertness of the armed forces after the OBL episode. I still do not believe that the armed forces did not know it, I think they well knew it but were quietened by high-ups, instead many should have resigned because of their failure to do their duty, as serving at such a low graph does not mean any service to nation. Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    May 5, 2011 - 8:33PM

    When I made this remark about these guys being your neighbors some 10 months ago someone attacked me for living in Virginia next to Blackwater! Recommend

  • Utopia
    May 6, 2011 - 9:17AM

    @ aziz bilwany: Your comments related to religion are irrelevant over here, when every functioning brain knows that the problem is not religion but politics in the name of religion. The source of all these events and incidents is not religion, if it was so then same kind of terrorism would have been there since 1400 years. Kindly understand the difference and be rational enough to view the power play (which is manipulating religion, being the most sensitive aspect of people’s lives). Recommend

  • Asim
    May 7, 2011 - 5:10PM

    The question is where do we go from here? Is this begining of the end or begining of a new begining. I dont know about the others but i have never felt so low in my life. Why is everybody is saying it will never happen again? Why is everyone only passing the buck? Are there more like Osama hiding in Pakistan? For how long the world will bear with us? Has anyone resigned for this lapse? Can anyone see light at the end of the tunnel? Recommend

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