Washington: Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden spent the last five years of his life behind the barbed wire and high walls of his mansion in Pakistan’s Abbottabad city, his days consumed by dark arts and domesticity.
The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.
According to a report, bin Laden’s Yemeni wife Amal al-Sadah- one of three wives now in Pakistani custody since the raid on Monday- told investigators that bin Laden, along with his children and grandchildren, had moved from Haripur to Abbottabad towards the end of 2005.
Interviews paint a portrait of an isolated man, perhaps a little bored, presiding over family life while plotting mayhem, still desperate to be heard, and musing in his handwritten notebooks about killing more Americans, The New York Times reports.
US officials believe that bin Laden spent many hours on the computer, relying on couriers to bring him thumb drives packed with information from the outside world, the report said.
Videos seized from bin Laden’s compound and released by the Obama administration on Saturday showed him wrapped in an old blanket watching himself on TV, like an aging actor imagining a comeback, the report added.
A senior intelligence official said that other videos showed him practicing and flubbing his lines in front of a camera, adding that the terrorist was interested enough in his image to dye his white beard black for the recordings.
Bin Laden once-large entourage of Arab bodyguards was down to one trusted Pakistani courier and the courier’s brother, who also had the job of buying goats, sheep and Coca-Cola for the household, said the report.
While his physical world had shrunk to two indoor rooms and daily pacing in his courtyard, bin Laden was still revered at home by his three wives, his children and the tight, interconnected circle of loyalists in the compound, it added.
Bin Laden did not do chores or tend to the cows and water buffalo on the south side of the compound like the other men. American officials figure that the household knew how important it was for him to devote his time to al Qaeda, the terrorist organization he founded and was still actively running at the time of his death.
American officials say there is much they do not know about the last years of bin Laden and the peculiar life of the compound, said the report.
Little is known about how bin Laden, believed to be 54, managed his relationships with his three wives, the report said, noting that on the night he was killed, the al Qaeda chief was in his bedroom with his youngest wife- Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah- whose Yemeni passport shows her to be 29 years old.
According to US officials, there were also children in the bedroom. Pakistani intelligence officers have also said that a 12-year-old girl told them that she was a daughter of bin Laden and that she saw the Americans shoot him.
US officials assume that during the last five years, bin Laden recorded about a half-dozen audio messages a year from inside the house. The messages were meant for dissemination to the outside world, but to avoid detection, bin Laden had no Internet or phone lines that he could use to send them. Zee News