U.S. intelligence officials: How we killed Osama bin Laden

Senior U.S. sources reveal details of the intelligence operation that led to the identification of the Pakistan compound where the al-Qaida leader was hiding

By Natasha Mozgovaya
Haaretz

The residents of the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been hiding out for the last few months raised the suspicions of American intelligence officials, according to two senior officials in the U.S. administration and the country’s intelligence agencies.

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed late Sunday that American forces had killed the al-Qaida in a raid at the compound, and recovered his body.

American analysts checked the information that piled up “from every possible angle” and came to the conclusion that there was no possible candidate that matched the profile of a potential VIP resident as well as bin Laden. “We were confident there was a high-value target hidden in the compound,” an official said.

“We tried to establish whether the terrorist who lives there is Osama Bin Laden,” a senior administration official said in a briefing to reporters. “We tracked his personal couriers. One courier in particular got our attention, the protégé of Khaled Sheikh Mohamad, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.”

The official said that detainees also recognized this man as a courier of bin Laden. “Four years ago we uncovered his identity. We identified the areas in Pakistan where they operated.”

The official said that the heavy security surrounding the compound aroused the suspicions of intelligence officials as far back as eight months ago. “In August 2010, we found the residence. It is an extraordinary, unique compound, eight times larger than the other homes in the town,” the senior U.S. official added.

“In the last six years some residential homes were built there. The security was extraordinary. Access to the compound was restricted by two security gates,” the official continued. There was no internet installed on the premises, the official said, and could not ascertain the source of the wealth of the compound’s owners.

“Our best assessment is that bin Laden was living there with several wives, including his youngest wife,” the official said.

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