HARIPUR, Pakistan (AP) — It’s an ornate but not lavish two-story house tucked away at the end of a mud-clogged street. It’s where Pakistan’s intelligence agency believes Osama bin Laden lived for nearly a year until he moved into the villa in which he eventually was killed.
The residence in the frontier town of Haripur was one of five safe houses used by the slain al Qaeda leader while on the run in Pakistan, according to information revealed by his youngest wife, who has been detained.
Retired Pakistani Brig. Shaukat Qadir, who has spent the last eight months tracking bin Laden’s movements, told the Associated Press that he was taken to the Haripur house last November by intelligence agents who located it from a description they got from Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, bin Laden’s youngest wife.
Mrs. al-Sada, a 30-year-old Yemeni, has been in Pakistani custody since May 2 when U.S. Navy SEALs overran the Abbottabad compound, killing bin Laden and four other people inside. Since then, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as the ISI, has been trying to uncover the trail that brought him to Abbottabad villa in the summer of 2005.
The best information appears to have come from Mrs. al-Sada, who was believed to be his favorite and who traveled with bin Laden since his escape from Afghanistan’s eastern Tora Bora mountain range in 2001.
Mr. Qadir, a 35-year army veteran who is now a security consultant, was given rare access to transcripts of Pakistani intelligence’s interrogation of Mrs. al-Sada and access to other documents on bin-Laden’s movements. He provided the AP with details in a recent interview.
The details of bin Laden’s life as a fugitive — which were first published by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn — raise fresh questions over how bin Laden was able to remain undetected for so long in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite being the subject of a massive international manhunt.
Yet a senior U.S. official who is familiar with the contents recovered in bin Laden’s Abbottabad house said there was no evidence that Pakistani officials were aware of bin Laden’s presence.
“There was no smoking gun. We didn’t find anything,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the contents of the Abbottabad house
According to the interrogation report, bin Laden lived in five safe houses and fathered four children — the two youngest born in a public hospital in Abbotabad, but investigators have only located the houses in Abbottabad and Haripur.
Mrs. al-Sada’s descriptions of the homes have been vague, and the Haripur house was found only after a series of hits and misses.
She knew only that it was located on the edge of Haripur, was two stories and had a basement. It apparently was used by bin Laden while he waited for construction crews to finish his new home Abbottabad, a garrison town 20 miles away.
Investigators scoured the area looking for properties until they found the Haripur house in Naseem Town, a chaotic suburb where relatively affluent houses bump up against sun-baked mud huts that belong to nomadic Afghans.
Like the CIA, the Pakistani agency also tracked the movements of bin Laden’s Pakistani courier who used the pseudonym Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti and his brother. The two were ethnic Pashtuns from Pakistan’s Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan. They were bin Laden’s front men.
The ISI discovered that the Haripur house, like the land on which bin Laden’sAbbottabad villa was built, was rented by two Pashtun brothers claiming to be from Charsadda, a Pashtun-dominated town about 80 miles away.