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Monday May 2, 2011 5:27 pm

Was it Osama bin Laden’s aversion to tech that got him killed?


Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Editorial, Features, Misc. Tech


inside bin laden compound

Osama bin Laden has likely stayed off the grid for the past decade in order to evade capture, but was it his aversion to tech that actually did him in?

During a late-night press briefing on bin Laden's death, the White House said that the Abbottabad, Pakistan's compound's lack of an Internet connection was one of the things that tipped off investigators.

"It's also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it. The brothers had no explainable source of wealth," a senior administration offical told reporters.

The brothers in question are a trusted bin Laden courier and his sibling. The White House said intelligence officials became aware of this courier four years ago thanks to information provided by detainees, but only uncovered his location in August 2010.

White House officials said they were "shocked" by the compound.


"When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road. In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby," the White House said. "The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections—internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection."

The compound, meanwhile, has already been mapped out on Google Maps, complete with a number of "reviews."

"Located in cozy, quiet neighborhood. Interrupted only occasionally by machine gun fire. Lacking in ameneties [sic], but an up and coming area. Handyman special. One satellite phone available with smoking bullet hole for comms back home. CIA helicoptors [sic] offering complimentary air lift service for corpses. Great property to get away from it all. Must See!" wrote one Google user.

"I heard this place is now available," wrote another.

Bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was killed in a U.S.-led raid on the compound yesterday. While there is an ongoing discussion about who broke the news, a local resident may have unknowingly live-tweeted the event as it happened.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant who tweets @ReallyVirtual, wrote yesterday that he saw a helicopter hovering over the city around 1am, which he said was a "rare event."

"A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty confused," he tweeted later.

When news broke of bin Laden's death, Athar wrote, "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it."

According to his Twitter feed, he has since been inundated with media requests. He apologized for not being able to answer everyone, but downplayed his involvement.

"I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That's all," Athar wrote earlier today.

This article, written by Chloe Albanesius, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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