The PJ Tatler

Bin Laden lived in Abbottabad compound for six years; admin backs off on details of raid

What does a publicity-craving terrorist do with himself in a compound with no phones or internet, for six years? Maybe, as one of our commenters suggested, he was guest lecturing at the Pakistan Military Academy up the road. Now that we have our hands on his computers and other materials scooped up in the raid, we may find out what he was up to and how close his pen pals live to that compound.

Osama bin Laden lived for the past five to six years in the compound deep inside Pakistan where the al Qaeda leader was killed by U.S. forces, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser said on Tuesday.

Bin Laden, who was living in Afghanistan before a 2001 U.S.-led invasion helped topple its Taliban regime, was holed up in a compound in the military garrison town of Abbottabad in Pakistan before Sunday’s operation to kill him.

“Well I think the latest information is that he was in this compound for the past five or six years and he had virtually no interaction with others outside that compound. But yet he seemed to be very active inside the compound,” White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said on the CBS Early Show program.

There is reason to be cautious about this revelation: It’s coming from John Brennan. Much of what he and other administration figures have been telling us about the raid is turning out to be wrong. There is uncertainty over whether bin Laden had a gun, whether he hid behind a woman during the firefight or not, and who was killed along with him in the raid.  The shifting details of a military raid on the other side of the world would usually be understandable, but less so in this circumstance for the simple reason that the president and his national security team watched the raid from the White House situation room. It’s not unreasonable to expect that they were recording, or at least taking notes. So why the back and forth over the basic details of whether OBL had a gun or hid behind a woman? I don’t get that, but the changing story plus the too quick burial at sea will do nothing to quell any doubters out there.