The Guardian newspaper notes that Osama bin Laden hid from spy satellites under a cowboy hat, did not pay property taxes and had a run-in with a traffic policeman in Swat.
1. According to the Abbottabad commission “collective incompetence and negligence” by the intelligence agencies was the main reason why the al Qaeda chief remained undetected for so long. Thankfully for us, this proves Pakistani army not housing the terrorist.
2. A traffic policeman in Swat could have ended the hunt for the world’s most wanted man soon after 2001 had he not “quickly settled the matter,” when he pulled over a car for over-speeding, carrying a clean-shaved Osama. This was when Bin Laden was being smuggled into the country.
3. America’s number one enemy used to wear a cowboy hat and stand under grape trellis to avoid being seen by US spy satellites.
4. Osama was a man of frugal tastes. Before coming to Abbottabad, he had just six pairs of shalwar qameez. His lack of possessions made neighbours believe that Bin Laden moved between locations.
5. Pakistan suffers from “governance implosion syndrome”. The ISI was unwilling to share important intelligence with the police.”
6. Since the children were never allowed to leave the premises of the house, Bin Laden tried to entertain his grandchildren by encouraging them to compete against each other in tending their vegetable patches. When the neighbour’s daughter recognised from TV that the ‘poor uncle’ who lived upstairs was world’s most wanted man, she could not watch television anymore.
7. Although a garrison town, the prime reason that Abottabad is free of terrorist attacks is that so many terrorist families live there. Bin Laden’s band of brothers who also dwelled in the suburban city included another top al Qaeda operative, Abu Faraj al-Libi and a Bali bomber, Umar Patek.
8. The property was bought using a fake national ID card, the third floor was built illegally and the occupants did not pay taxes.
9. Pakistan’s spies deeply distrust their US counterparts. According to Pasha, the “main agenda of the CIA was to have the ISI declared a terrorist organisation”. The CIA refused to share intelligence with the ISI because the CIA wanted to deny Pakistan the credit for nabbing the world’s most wanted man.
10. The CIA was very active in Abbottabad and there were “ground assets” to aid the raid on Bin Laden. “Suspicious activities” included the cutting down of trees to clear the approach of the helicopters and the renting of a nearby house for people supposedly working for the USAID.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.
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