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How Osama bin Laden Was Found

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In this age of GPS signals, Foursquare check-ins, and iPhone tracking, how did America's most-wanted man, Osama bin Laden, stay hidden for almost a decade? A better question would ask how he was found, for that is the reason the world is rejoicing today.


Despite hiding in plain sight of a police station and military headquarters in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bin Laden's million-dollar mansion—eight times larger than the mansions surrounding it—was stormed in a raid last night. US officials had tracked one of bin Laden's trusted right-hand men, a courier, after he was identified by detainees captured after 9/11, and discovered he lived with his brother in an "extraordinarily unique compound," which "harboured a high-value terrorist target," according to various senior administration officials.


It was the fact that this mysteriously large mansion lacked a phone line or internet connection that ultimately made officials believe something was amiss. With all the riches in the world, could they not afford a connection? Other details soon began causing suspicion too—trash was burned instead of put out for collectors, like their neighbors did. What was this three-story mansion hiding?

Whatever it was hiding, they were hiding it well: security measures included mammoth walls up to 5.5m in height, laced with barbed wire, along with internal walls that gave the compound a maze-like quality. There were few windows according to officials, which no doubt masked the third family living with the courier and his brother—Osama bin Laden, and his youngest wife. After the US military entered the compound in a 40-minute long raid, five adults were killed in the firefight: Osama; his son; the courier and his brother, and a woman who may or may not be bin Laden's wife. Details are still trickling out now about the raid, and how bin Laden was discovered, but one thing's certain: this sadly won't be the last time terrorism rears its ugly head. [The Guardian and JPost and Boing Boing and ABC]

To check out our full coverage on the successful raid of Osama bin Laden's compound—from the planning to the aftermath—head here.