Unsafe haven: Why was Abbottabad the final destination?

Published: May 3, 2011
Pakistani soldiers and police officials keep vigil near a building the hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after his death by US Special Forces in a ground operation in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani soldiers and police officials keep vigil near a building the hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after his death by US Special Forces in a ground operation in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Although there have been a lot of speculation about Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan after the American invasion of Afghanistan following 9/11, nobody expected him to be in Abbottabad – a virtually military-controlled city.

Since his famous escape from Tora Bora back in 2001, the terror icon has been hiding in various mountainous regions along with the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, although there isn’t any reliable trail of his underground life.

The Afghan Kunar province – an area close to the Tora Bora peaks – was reportedly the first place that hosted Osama Bin Laden for some years since the fugitive Taliban regime was driven out from the country by international forces.

It is not clear who his facilitators in Kunar were but the region is known to be one of the few Afghan provinces where most militants follow the al-Hadith school of thought – close to the Takfiri ideology that al Qaeda believes in.

Osama Bin Laden then moved into neighbouring Nuristan province – along with the border of Chitral district. Associates of the group, Commander Mujtaba and Usman, told this scribe back in the summer of 2009 that they had been hosting Osama for some time. They were not, however, aware of his whereabouts at the time.

His next hideout was Chitral where people in Banduk and Shangrum valleys in the foothills of Trichmir Mountain said they often heard of Bin Laden’s presence in their areas, although no one claimed to have actually seen him.

Bajaur tribal agency is another place where al Qaeda’s founding father has been living for several months, if not years.

Insiders say that Osama’s stay in Bajaur was his longest in Pakistan, making the region al Qaeda’s hotbed before the Taliban captured Waziristan. However, according to Pakistani Taliban’s top leader Hakimullah Mehsud, Osama’s last destination inside Pakistan was North Waziristan.

“He was in North Waziristan last year,” Mehsud had told a reporter in an interview earlier this year.

How and why Bin Laden moved to Abbottabad remains a mystery. Whether there was some sort of assurance for his safety in the region is something to probe about.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2011.


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Reader Comments (22)

  • Hedgefunder
    May 3, 2011 - 6:10PM

    Because someone high up in the Army or ISI recommended, that this was the best place for OBL to reside!!!!
    Right in the Heart of this beautiful Garrison City!!!Recommend

  • Babloo
    May 3, 2011 - 6:29PM

    Pakistan has received 18 billion dollars in the fight against Bin Laden ( besides billions more loans pardoned ) . How could the army allow the capture of such a Pak national asset ?Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 3, 2011 - 6:47PM

    Whether there was some sort of assurance for his safety in the region is something to probe about.

    Yep – if Pakistani officials have been hiding Bin Laden then you can imagine the conversations taking place behind closed doors knowing that the American’s have captured prisoners during their raid as well as hard drives and other evidence. The “were ignorant and incompetent” line might satisfy America but i doubt it. Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 3, 2011 - 7:42PM

    A fortress in the heart of military is the safest place for OBL. The had no common enemies there and free safety and security. Finally the technology won over deception.

    One wonders what else is brewing in Pakistan’s most secured areas? We really are safe as the back of terrorism is broken! Recommend

  • ashok sai
    May 3, 2011 - 7:57PM

    OBL had been in that compound for the past 5-6 years – US spokesman.Recommend

  • NO JOY
    May 3, 2011 - 8:31PM

    Pakistan has fully harvested the rich crop of AL FAIDA….Recommend

  • Ali
    May 3, 2011 - 10:59PM

    Next Target Pak nukes…coming to a theater near you..only night shows…Pak militry personnel not allowed…only yankee seals are allowed in…Recommend

  • khurram kaleem
    May 3, 2011 - 11:30PM

    May be the american had brought osama alive to abotabad and then shot him along with suspected al qaeda occupant of the house and fired at one of their own helicopter to mark it as combat operation.Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    May 4, 2011 - 12:18AM

    He could not have stayed in the Abbotabad safe house without the active support of someone high up in the eatblishment.

    No wonder the Amis did not take any arm of the Pakistani establishment into confidence before the operation.Recommend

  • vasan
    May 4, 2011 - 6:29AM

    Khurram Kaleem: Keep spinning imaginary stories , weave your own maze of conspiracy theories. The fact of the matter is OBL was killed in Abbotabad, a garrison town, by CIA and US army without entrusting the operation to Pak army for lack of trust, without any assistance during the operation, This will be a game changer to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Vinayak
    May 4, 2011 - 7:40AM

    @khurram kaleem:
    Ya, and they also brought in 2 females and lot of children kidnapped from Arab countries, to make their deception complete.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    May 4, 2011 - 11:51AM

    Classic case of “Diye taale Andhera”Recommend

  • NJ
    May 4, 2011 - 12:21PM

    @khurram kaleem: comments are ridiculous as Vinayak as pointed. It is time to introspect, must act else the country will slip into chaos; to begin with please dismantle ISI as historically it has brought shame to the nation, let it be the 1965 defeat, 1971 war, Kargil conflict and recent loss of credibility in the world. There anti India rhetoric have blinded every Pakistani and time and again have brought home all the unwanted junk from the world. Senseless, throw them out in teh arabian sea and let us begin afresh with alignign our strategic interests to teh prosperity of Pakistani people. Today, as a Pakistani, al are down with a deep feeling of humiliation and severe loss of self respect. Recommend

  • Abu Abdullah
    May 4, 2011 - 2:56PM

    Here you go with the usual hue and cry from our Indian ‘friends’ the biggest violators of human rights and promoters of state terrorism.

    Talk about double standards!Recommend

  • Uncle Sam
    May 5, 2011 - 9:15AM

    For once we have given the Americans the luxury to get hold of OBL and spinning them around searching for him for 10 odd years. This was a smart thinking of mending $$$ from them in the name of terror. Shhhmart isn’t it ….Recommend

    May 5, 2011 - 12:44PM

    As per latest news US is considering freezing aid to Pakistan. ‘Ab kaya hoga Pakistan ka’. Recommend

  • Zulfiqar from Pakistan
    May 5, 2011 - 1:44PM

    Can we believe after 9/11 terror attack america searching bin laden the last 10 year and spend millions of doller for it ,but now they find osamas hiding place few kilometer away from islamabad and pak military bse.and both of there intelligent dont know where about osama,and now the most wanted man died by the american military attack and the world media has no any proof either by photo or vedio clips about his dead body ,and the buriel also they say we did inthe sea within few hour.if he dead it is good ,becouse all this chavos going on after 9/11 by his name.when they hanged saddam there is transperency all the world saw that thre vision media,but this case what is the proof.i think just a drama of 2011-.

    Alqaeda was made by the America to destabliza the muslim countires specially Pakistan & Osma bin Laden was a main charactor of this drarma, which is finished & America has no more need of Osama now. se they kill him. Inshallah a day will come when Americans will runaway from Afghanistan & Iraq, because Russia was entered Afghanistan with same targets but aftr 8 years went back facing a huge loss. Afghanies will push back America in near future.

    It is true that the whole Muslim nation is under attack today, and not only Pakistanis but the Muslims across the world are being tested before their great victory as per the promises in the Qur’an:

  • Hedgefunder
    May 5, 2011 - 4:16PM

    @Zulfiqar from Pakistan:
    Keep preaching the BS!!
    Go check the Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemanis and very soon Libyans,Bahrainis and Syrians too!!
    They are not in the same fold that you are talking about!!
    Their objectives are far wider and more socio-economical, than Religion!!!!Recommend

  • Kazmis
    May 6, 2011 - 9:11AM

    @khurram kaleem:
    American always do such a blunder in their operations, crashing a helicopter, as in Iran few years back. In fact they have the advance technology but no moral, ethical and legitimate ground for their operation and hence they reflect confusion with their action. The ever changing statement, Ladin was using human shield, Ladin was resisting etc. It was a cold blooded murder. Today’s ethic is that you enter in a small country illegitimately, unethically and no botheration for international norms. Why USA is not declaring Pakistan an Enemy. They always call a FRIEND and support highly corrupt rulers, highly dollars paid official for their some evil desires.Recommend

  • Begum Ziabunissah Hamidullah
    May 7, 2011 - 11:46PM

    No matter what evidence you provide there are always going to be the mentally struggling skeptical-conspiracy crowd like @Kazmis & @khurram kaleem: who also believe that Usama was a second tier prophet who was instructed to create mayhem and destroy men women & children in the name of Islam.
    They refuse to admit that America successfully and silently came to Pakistan and in a short period of time expanded a covert of killing the most insidious man in recent history who was responsible in the killing of more innocent Muslims in the name of his mission. Osama supporters belong to that vile, degenerate sect who honor and accept violence as a way of life.These pariahs of society should be quarantined so as not to spread their message of hate. .
    Yes America proudly murdered a wanted low-life…despicable…human abuser in a small country like Pakistan. @Kazmis is wondering about ethics & international norms? where was your RAGE about ethics & noorms when Osama bin Laden was killing your brothers and sisters? that makes the point of intellectuals like @Zulfiqar from Pakistan:* Alqaeda was made by the America to destabilize the Muslim countries* so when Al-Qaeda was killing Muslims they were assisting America?
    With this though process in Pakistan we should reconsider if education also is a lost cause in Pakistan? Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    May 8, 2011 - 5:49PM

    @Begum Ziabunissah Hamidullah:
    It is not first time one that such comments have appeared, however do agree with you , that education is at present lost cause in pakistan.
    One needs to consider complete overhaul of the system and curriculum too, for the future generation of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Shash
    May 9, 2011 - 11:54AM

    Sorry gentlemen, but this article is part of the smokescreen being created by ISI to oblitrate it’s tracks in helping OBL to evade US.Recommend

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