What is odd about the Bin Laden hideout?
I have been reading different news reports that are trying to give a mysterious angle to the Osama Bin Laden hideout in Abbottabad. First, they find the huge, barbed wired walls almost 12-15 feet high around the house conspicuous. In the view of western media, this should immediately trigger a suspicion in the mind of an onlooker. I don’t agree with it.
In Pakistan generally and especially in Khyber Pukhtunkhuwa, big and small cities, suburban towns and in villages it is very common to erect tall walls and protect the top of the wall with either barbed wire or with smashed pieces of glass. This measure is taken for protecting the house from intrusion by robbers and thieves. I will give an example of my own house in Peshawar. It was constructed in 1970s and the builders had kept the walls short. With passing time, especially with increasing number of Afghan refugees, who would roam around to collect leaves, twigs and sticks would scale the wall and jump into our yard. In order to protect our house from this unwanted intrusion we raised the walls to almost 12 feet and protected it with the smashed pieces of glass.
There are unconfirmed reports of video surveillance cameras fixed in Bin Laden’s hideout. If true, that is not surprising either. In our township, our neighbor installed such cameras after an attempted robbery in his house. People do take such measures as one cannot rely on the police force much. Similarly, our other neighbor, which happened to be a foreign NGO of some sort (I have no idea what exactly do they do – remember in big neighborhoods people don’t poke into each other’s affairs) – one of the foreign staff members came to us one day and sought our permission for raising their side of the wall. We had no objection. They dropped the idea and instead went ahead by putting up barbed wire on the wall.
Moreover, the Bin Laden hideout was huge with a big yard or compound. The land in Kakul is expensive no doubt and the township is inhabited by well-do-to people from different walks of life. But it isn’t a cantonment area. So I don’t expect any specific regulation for construction of houses. Irrespective, in terms of décor, Bin Laden’s hideout was a far cry from what the western media was calling a “mansion” and “villa” etc. It sounded like Bin Laden was living a grandeur and luxurious life which doesn’t ring true from the photos. I believe his cave would have been more sophisticated than his so-called hideout villa.
Most importantly, from the hideout of the world’s most wanted man, what comes to mind is that there would be underground rooms and tunnels for an escape but the hideout seem to be like any other usual house constructed in the village-style, with a huge compound for holding village councils etc.
Having said this I don’t deny Bin Laden’s existences in that so-called mansion; I am only trying to debunk the claims made by the western media about his hideout and putting up neighbors’ testimonies about how that house gave them creeps. If they were so suspicious, they should have tried to report it to police. Yes, what would be surprising is less or almost no domestic activity from a particular house which the neighbors did notice but of course it never crossed their minds that the place maybe a home to the world’s most wanted man. In the end, like any geography Nazi, I would also reiterate that Abbottabad is not a “suburb” of Islamabad. It is a town located in Khyber Pukhtunkhuwa and is almost 117 km away from Islamabad. Hope the people in western media get it right – after all, this town is going to stay in the news for a while.