Ten things about the Bin Laden report

1. The “Bin Laden report” or “Abbottabad report” is the result of an investigation by a commission appointed by the Pakistan government into the slaying of al-Qaeda ­terrorist leader Osama bin Laden by a United States Navy Seals hit squad in 2011. It was leaked to news ­channel Al Jazeera this week.

2. Bin Laden’s 10-year stay in Pakistan was a cock-up on the part of Pakistan intelligence, not a conspiracy, says the report, blaming “collective incompetence and ­negligence” on the part of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

3. Pakistan’s former spy chief, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, told the commission he believed the CIA refused to share information with Pakistan intelligence agencies not because they did not trust them but because the US wanted to deny Pakistan the credit for nabbing the world’s most wanted man.

4. Bin Laden hid from US spy satellites when outside by standing under a grape trellis or wearing a wide-brimmed cowboy hat.

5. He was a man of frugal tastes. Before coming to Abbottabad he had just six pairs of shalwar qameez, the long-tailed shirt-suit that is Pakistan’s national dress – three for summer and three for winter.


6. Pakistan suffers from “governance implosion syndrome”. The report reveals the unwillingness of the well-resourced military spy agency to share important intelligence with the police. Pasha told the commission: “We are a failing state even if we are not yet a failed state.”

7. Bin Laden’s grandchildren were not free to go outside the compound, but he encouraged them to compete against each other in tending to their vegetable patches.

8. Abbottabad is home to lots of soldiers – and terrorists. It is often referred to as a “garrison town” because of the presence of Pakistan’s military academy. But the report shows that terrorists also favour it. One resident told the commission that the town was free of terror attacks precisely because so many militant families lived there.

9. Bin Laden did not pay property taxes and flouted local building regulations. The property was bought using a fake national ID card, the third floor was built illegally and the occupants did not pay taxes. The commission said all of these things should have attracted attention. Local officials blamed negligence, corruption and staff shortages. The report says: “Either OBL [Bin Laden] was extremely fortunate to not run into anyone … doing his job honestly, or there was a complete collapse of local governance.”

10. In the lead-up to the attack on Bin Laden, CIA activity in Abbottabad could have included personnel to guide the US special forces helicopters to the house. “Suspicious activities” included the cutting down of trees to clear the approach for the Navy Seals helicopters and the renting of a nearby house for ­people ­supposedly working for a US aid agency. – Jon Boone © Guardian News & Media 2013

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