Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound may have appeared no different from any other nondescript house in the middle-class neighborhood of Bilal Town, except for the high cement walls topped with barbed wire — and a few other distinguishing factors. Along with rows of cabbages and potatoes on the border wall of the compound, for instance, CNN’s Nic Robertson discovered rows of marijuana plants. Pakistan makes roughly $4 billion a year from drug trafficking, although opium poppy is the preferred crop, leading some to believe that bin Laden partook of the plant to ease the pain from years of kidney problems. The men who lived in the compound with bin Laden, known there as Arshad Khan and Tareq Khan, also seemed wealthier than their neighbors, who were mostly shopkeepers, farm laborers, and Afghan refugees. They paid generous wages to the help, owned a red SUV and a white Suzuki jeep, and explained away the extra cash by saying that “they had a hotel in Dubai managed by their uncle who sent them money, or that they worked in the money-changing business,” reports the New York Times.
If neighborhood children accidentally let a ball fly into the compound, the owners gave them 50 rupees to buy a new one. When local children began throwing balls past the cement wall on purpose, they kept on paying.
India Times also notes a distinguishing feature when it comes to the compound’s owner. Hizbul Mujahedeen, a militant group active in Kashmir, allegedly owns a mansion nearby in Abbottabad. A Canadian newspaper also claims that Pakistan has tried to sweep the ownership under the rug by instructing patwaris, or land-registry officials, to stay quiet on the matter. A Pakistani police officer said that the hideout itself may have been used and owned by Hizbul, a group that has benefited from tolerance, if not support, from the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service. If the connection was true, it would be the first time Hizbul, which focuses more narrowly on removing Indian forces from Kashmir, was linked to Al Qaeda’s broader ambitions.
Behind High Walls, Model Neighbors Were Harboring a Fugitive [NYT]
Osama’s hideout in Pakistan belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen: Report [India Times]
Bin Laden’s HIGH security compound: Marijuana plants grew near hideout as servants made trips for ‘lots’ of VERY western Coke and Pepsi [Daily Mail UK]
Marijuana crops planted outside Osama Bin Laden’s compound; farmers growing ganja near terror lair [NYDN]