After 10 years, what gave bin Laden away?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Osama bin Laden’s decade on the run after 9/11 may have come to its end in part because his large hideout reportedly lacked a phone and Internet connection -- an unusual absence likely to have drawn investigators’ curiosity.

For a decade, his presumed choice of Pakistan as a hideout from history’s biggest manhunt worked well enough. Experts speculated that he had sought protection from local militants in their remote mountain bastions, repaying the hospitality by helping their bloody effort to make Pakistan ungovernable.

In part, the effort succeeded because he and other al Qaeda leaders had been able to avoid the electronic communications that Western spies often use to track their targets.

The country, especially in its lawless northwest bordering Afghanistan, is home to many pro-al Qaeda groups believed to have been willing and able to provide human couriers to enable the world’s most wanted man to communicate with his followers.

Overnight, however, bin Laden’s long effort at concealment ran aground when U.S. forces stormed his hideout and shot him dead.

Precisely what were the giveaway factors remains unclear, because much detail has yet to be told about the raid.

One fact about his location was an immediate surprise -- instead of hiding in a cave in a remote peak of the Hindu Kush, the leader of al Qaeda turned out to have been hiding in an urban area near the capital Islamabad.

But in the event it may have been his apparent attempt to hide his communications, rather than his precise choice of location, that helped to seal his fate.

The large urban compound that sheltered him in the garrison town of Abbottabad, 60 km (35 miles) north of Islamabad, is reported to have had no telephone or Internet, a highly unusual lack in a property of such size, although a Reuters reporter visiting the scene saw one satellite dish in the compound.

Henry Wilkinson of Janusian security consultants in London said the absence of electronic communications would have been a tell-tale sign for the planners of the raid.

“No telephone or Internet is pretty unusual and would have been an immediate factor of interest to investigators,” said Wilkinson.

LeT founder Hafiz leads prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan

REUTERS: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has told Muslims to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his "martyrdom" would not go in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday.

The media are often barred from gatherings of the LeT, the militant group blamed for the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai.

But a spokesman for Hafiz said he had told followers at special prayers held for the slain al Qaeda leader that this "great person" would continue to be a source of strength and encouragement for Muslims around the world.

"Osama bin Laden was a great person who awakened the Muslim world," Saeed's spokesman Yahya Mujahid quoted him as saying during prayers at the headquarters of the LeT's charity in the Punjab capital Lahore on Monday.