bin laden compound
bin laden compound, A private construction firm was hired to bulldoze the structure following the green light from the judicial commission investigating the circumstances that led to the US Navy SEAL raid, official sources told The Express Tribune.
“Workers are expected to pull down the building by 3am,” said an official source, adding that heavy machinery had been moved to Bilal Town, the neighbourhood next to Pakistan Military Academy where the structure is located.
Soon after a visit to the mansion by the Abbottabad commission members, the belongings of the Bin Laden family were moved to an undisclosed location in anticipation of its demolition.
Sources said that security forces, who were standing guard at the compound, handed its control to the civil administration before its demolition started at around 8.30pm.
Witnesses said troops blocked access to the compound, brought heavy machinery and barred journalists from taking pictures or coming close to the site. As workers started demolishing the structure in the glare of floodlights, local residents were asked to remain indoors till the structure was razed.
The triple-storey house, built over an area of 38,000 square feet and worth Rs85 million, has been under the control of the security forces and police since the May 2011 raid.
Two months ago, the authorities had detained the Danish ambassador, his wife and their security officer for visiting the area. During the last 10 months, more than eight Pakistani and foreign journalists were also detained for taking photographs of the compound.
“They should have razed it much earlier to spare us frequent questioning and surveillance,” said local resident Iqbal.
“The area people will now heave a sigh of relief,” added Tariq, another resident of Bilal Town. “At least the Bin Laden chapter is closed for us now.”
The revelation that US forces were so close to the world's most wanted man in 2008 comes after material from the Guantánamo files suggested the US may have received the intelligence that led them to Bin Laden as early as 2008.
The US soldiers were due to perform a routine posting "training the trainers" of Pakistan's 70,000-strong federal military unit, the Frontier Corps.
Abbottabad is home to the Pakistan Military Academy, the country's version of Sandhurst in Britain, and trains officers from across the nation. The academy is streets away from where Bin Laden was tracked down and killed.
The information about the US troops is contained in the account of a meeting in Washington between the-then US deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, and Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, discussing security co-operation and concerns across the country.
After both parties agreed the security plans lacked resources, Pakistan's national security advisor, Mahmud Ali Durrani, referred to the training co-operation.
"Durrani pledged Pakistan's support for the US Training-of-Trainers for the Frontier Corps starting in Abbottabad in October," the report read.
US forces may have visited the town for a second time, months later, according to the cable. "Due to the slow pace of construction, Durrani added he was doubtful that the more permanent training site at Warsak would be ready for the next iteration of training, scheduled in early 2009.
"Durrani thanked the US for its support of Pakistan's special forces, but requested more training and equipment to improve Pakistan's capacity, specifically citing lift capability and intelligence sharing."
Abbottabad is only infrequently mentioned in the 250,000 leaked embassy cables. The cables show the town, 35 miles north of Islamabad, also served as a distribution hub for US and UN aid in the wake of Pakistan's 2005 earthquake.