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Architectural clues to Bin Laden's hideout

An architect’s eye for detail helped locate al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideaway, US officials have revealed

White House officials have admitted they were ‘shocked’ when they first saw the ‘extraordinarily unique’ compound housing Bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.

Elite US forces killed bin Laden in a daring raid on his compound after detailed analysis of the unique, security-conscious building.

The £600,000 high-security compound - featuring high walls (between 3.6m to 5.4m) topped with barbed wire and two security gates - stood out from neighbouring buildings in Abbottabad and was roughly eight times larger than any others in area, said Obama administration officials.

The main structure was built in 2005 at the end of what was then a narrow dirt road on the outskirts of the town centre. The three-storey building had few external windows facing the outside of the compound, while a terrace on the third floor had an additional 2.1m ‘privacy wall’.

The officials said: ‘When we saw the compound, we were shocked by what we saw - an extraordinarily unique compound. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary.’

The relatively affluent and socially tranquil district, about 50 miles north of the capital Islamabad, is home to predominately retired military personnel.

While neighbours left their bins out to be collected, residents of the compound burned their rubbish on site, the officials said.

The property had no telephone or internet services. The officials added: ‘Intelligence analysts concluded that this compound was custom-built to hide someone of significance.’

In recent months a full-size mock-up of the compound was constructed at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and used in rehearsals for the raid.


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