Av en fange på Guantanamo fikk USA vite navnet på mannen som var Osama bin Ladens foretrukne kurér til omverdenen. Men de fikk bare vite hans dekknavn. Det tok dem fire år å avdekke mannens virkelige navn.
Det tok dem ytterligere to år å finne ut hvor han bodde. Da de fant frem til huset, ble de overrasket: Det var et herskapshus som var formidabelt etter pakistansk standard, og hvor sikkerheten var ekstrem. CIA fant det helt usannsynlig at kurérfamilien hadde råd til eller behov for en slik bolig. De fikk mistanke om at bygningen skjulte flere.
De la også merke til at huset ikke hadde internett- og telefonforbindelse, og at alt søppelet ble brent og ikke satt ut til avhenting, slik det var vanlig i nabolaget.
Deretter var det bare et spørsmål om tid før CIA var sikker på at Osama bin Laden bodde i huset.
Det ble bygget i 2005, og amerikanerne mistenker at det var for å huse Osama bin Laden. Det virker helt usannsynlig at pakistanske myndigheter ikke visste hva som foregikk.
Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.
Still, it was not until August when they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad, a medium-sized city about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital.
C.I.A. analysts spent the next several weeks examining satellite photos and intelligence reports to determine who might be living at the compound, and a senior administration official said that by September the C.I.A. had determined there was a “strong possibility” that Bin Laden himself was hiding there.
It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains where many had envisioned Bin Laden to be hiding. Rather, it was a mansion on the outskirts of the town’s center, set on an imposing hilltop and ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
The property was valued at $1 million, but it had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. Its residents were so concerned about security that they burned their trash rather putting it on the street for collection like their neighbors.
American officials believed that the compound, built in 2005, was designed for the specific purpose of hiding Bin Laden.
Pakistans gjentatte dementier og den kategoriske måten de har vært fremført på, vil nå virke som løgner for å tildekke at Pakistan skjulte bin Laden.
Asked about the Qaeda leader’s whereabouts during a Congressional visit to Islamabad in September 2009, the Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik, replied that he “’had no clue,” but added that he did not believe that Bin Laden was in the area. Bin Laden had sent his family to Iran, so it made sense that he might have gone there himself, Mr. Malik argued. Alternatively, he might be hiding in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, or perhaps he was already dead, he added, according to a cable from the American Embassy that is among the collection obtained by WikiLeaks.