Dubai: The compound in Abbottabad where Osama Bin Laden was killed was once used as a safe house by Pakistan's premier intelligence agency ISI, Gulf News has learnt.
"This area had been used as ISI's safe house, but it was not under their use any more because they keep on changing their locations," a senior intelligence official confided to Gulf News. However, he did not reveal when and for how long it was used by the ISI operatives. Another official cautiously said "it may not be the same house but the same compound or area used by the ISI".
The official also confirmed that the house was rented out by Afghan nationals and is not owned by the government. The house is located just 800 metres away from the Pakistan Military Academy and some former senior military officials live nearby.
Abbottabad is a garrison town located just 50 kilometres north of Islamabad and it is a popular summer resort, originally built by the British during colonial rule. The city houses a number of upscale educational institutions and religious schools as well.
According to the briefing by senior US officials on the killing of Bin Laden, the area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military staff. It is also insulated from the natural disasters and terrorist attacks that have afflicted other parts of Pakistan — an extraordinarily unique compound. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than nearby homes.
The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary.
It has 12-to-18-foot outer walls, topped with barbed wires. Internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy.
Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates and the residents of the compound burnt their trash, unlike their neighbours, who put the trash out for collection.
The property is valued at approximately $1 million (Dh3.67 million), but has no telephone or Internet connection.