Sunday 18 February 2018

Souvenir hunters buy up Bin Laden hideaway

Pakistani girls, center, walk at the demolished compound of Osama bin Laden, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Photo: Associated Press
Pakistani girls, center, walk at the demolished compound of Osama bin Laden, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Photo: Associated Press

Rob Crilly in Abbottabad, Pakistan

OSAMA bin Laden's last home is being sold brick by brick after being demolished following his death last year.

Two baths and a home-made TV aerial have also been put on sale by the enterprising contractor who bulldozed the three-storey home in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in February.

While Pakistan's leaders are keen to obliterate any memory of how the world's most wanted man evaded capture for so long, Shakeel Ahmed said his salvageyard had become a tourist attraction.

"These bricks can be used by people to build new houses," he said, pointing to a heap of some of the 180,000 bricks from the site.

"Some come here looking for just one, so they can have them as a gift."

The al-Qa'ida leader was killed a year ago tomorrow after the CIA traced him to the villa in Abbottabad.

As one of the best-known contractors in the town, he was hired to flatten the compound. The rubble was put up for auction but with other builders too frightened to bid, he said, he scooped the lot for 500,000 rupees (€4,000).

Militants

Now the bricks are on sale for anyone who wants to negotiate a deal for 1,000 or more -- at little more than €25 a lot.

He also snapped up two olive trees, cooking oil and window blinds but fears that his role in disposing of Bin Laden's house could attract the attention of Islamist militants. "My family is very worried that my life is now in danger," he said. "Now, I always travel with a bodyguard."

The site of Bin Laden's hideaway has become a makeshift cricket pitch for children who live nearby.

Most residents in the area would prefer to pretend the terrorist never lived there.

Zain Mohammed (80) lived opposite the world's most wanted man after selling land for the house to two Pashtun brothers who turned out to be working as fixers for Bin Laden.

But Mr Mohammed said he was not convinced Bin Laden was ever there.

"No one ever saw him there and no one has ever shown us any proof so no one here believes Bin Laden was really living there," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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