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Bin Laden neigbors - find it hard to believe
Photo: Tsur Shezaf
En route to Abbottabad
Photo: Tsur Shezaf
Bin Laden's neighbors shocked; doubt US assassination claims
Residents of affluent Islamabad suburb where arch-terrorist made his home finding it hard to believe that man who terrorized world for over a decade was living just down the street
ISLAMABAD – "We heard two small blasts then one large blast. Then we heard helicopters for around 20 minutes and the operation was over" – that is what Osama bin Laden's neighbors told Ynet's special reporter and the first Israeli reporter to arrive near the house in Pakistan, where the leader of al-Qaeda has been living until, US navy SEALs assassinated him in a daring commando op.

 

For years the Americans thought bin Laden, who was responsible for the 2001 September 11 attacks was hiding in the tribal region belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 

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But it has now been revealed that for the last three years he had been living at the mansion where he was assassinated in an affluent suburb in Pakistan's capital. It is an area not usually associated with the Taliban and most of the residents aren’t al-Qaeda supporters. Neighbors said the house belonged to a man from the Taliban stronghold of Peshawar.

 

The house in the town of Bilal in Abbottabad near the capital city of Islamabad is only 50-60 meters from neighboring houses. Not far from there is Pakistan's military academy and a military hospital. Tanks and artillery troops are stationed nearby.

 

Neighbors and local media doubted the US announcement over the al-Qaeda leader's assassination. They found it hard to believe that the man that terrified the world for years was living right next door.

 

More questions

The media keeps mentioning that there is no body and that Obama has yet to present any proof. In any case, journalists aren't being allowed near the house where bin-Laden lived with his nine wives and 23 of his children.

 

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has defended his country against accusations it did not do enough to track down bin Laden. In an op-ed for The Washington Post he said Pakistan was as much a victim of al-Qaeda militants as any country and denied any notion that authorities had failed to act.

But newspapers said the raid would generate more questions on Pakistan's role as an ally in combating terrorism.

 

"Pakistan has found itself in quite the embarrassing situation. ... Whilst we have been allies of the US, we have been very trying partners, picking and choosing the militants we wanted to root out and the ones we wanted to protect," the Daily Times said.

 

"It is hoped we will not be on the receiving end of a negative fallout with the Americans, who are in this war for (the) long haul."

 

 


First published: 05.03.11, 11:38
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