Osama had €500, two phone numbers sewn into clothes
Published 05/05/2011 | 05:00
Osama bin Laden had e500 in cash and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing in case he needed to make a quick escape from his compound.
Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, said Bin Laden believed "his network was strong enough [that] he'd get a heads-up" before any US strike against him. He suggested that Bin Laden's confidence might have been the reason his compound was only lightly guarded.
It may also explain why Bin Laden was not armed when he was killed during the operation in the early hours of Monday.
As fresh details about the raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were made public, it was also disclosed that the US Navy Seals who carried out the attack had to get past barricades that blocked the stairs leading to Bin Laden's second-floor bedroom.
Mr Panetta also said both the Seal teams had to "breach three or four walls" inside the compound to get to Bin Laden's building because the Black Hawk helicopter carrying commandos whose mission was to land on the roof was the one that suffered mechanical failure.
His disclosure that Bin Laden was carrying e500 in cash raised obvious questions about whether the al-Qa'ida chief was intending to flee to Europe, as US dollars would have been the obvious choice of currency to carry if he intended to change it in countries neighbouring Pakistan.
It also helped justify the CIA's nervousness about informing the Pakistani authorities for fear that Bin Laden would be tipped off.
Referring to the fact that Bin Laden was found less than a mile from Pakistan's military academy, which led to suspicions that the Pakistanis must have known where he was, Mr Panetta said: "Pakistan was involved or incompetent."
The fresh details he gave about the raid by 25 commandos shed more light on the consequences of the Black Hawk crash-landing.
He said the plan had been for one group of Seals to abseil into the compound while the other abseiled on to the roof.
Because the helicopter carrying the roof team failed, both teams went in on ground level. They had to breach three or four walls to get to the main building and then fought their way up to the second floor, where Bin Laden and his family were living.
During the 40-minute raid on Bin Laden's compound, the Navy Seal team collected computers, thumb drives, DVDs and documents. That material was being analysed by a team of computer forensics experts at the CIA and the US National Security Agency.
Mr Panetta said the Seals had gathered an "impressive amount" of material.
With Bin Laden dead, the US operation was now concentrated on locating its next big target.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who served as Bin Laden's deputy, was the main focus and the one most likely to have been in contact with al-Qa'ida's leader. The organisation's number three, Saif al-Adel, was also high up the list. (© Daily Telegraph, London)