Sunday 8 December 2019

US scale model of Bin Laden house revealed

The scale model of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed. Photo: AP
The scale model of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed. Photo: AP

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

The Pentagon has unveiled a top-secret model of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, which was used by intelligence officials to plan the raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.

So secret was the project, that even the model makers charged with replicating the villa in Styrofoam, clay and acrylic would not have known the identity of its occupant.

It went on public display in a Pentagon corridor this week, attracting a crowd of soldiers and office workers.

It was built by a special team at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency from satellite images.

“This is actually the first time the model has been out of the building. Although it’s been declassified for a while, we were just able to make it publicly releasable,” spokeswoman Erica Fouche told AFP.

Bin Laden was tracked down to the three-storey villa in Abbottabad, about thirty miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

He was shot dead by a team of Navy Seals on May 2 last year.

The commandos rehearsed the raid at a full-size mock-up at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

However, the scale model – featuring razor wire, ivy and a red van that frequently visited the house - was used in the final stages of planning for Operation Neptune Spear, the codename given to the mission to kill the world’s most wanted man.

The team used a technique known as photogenic measurement to calculate heights from lengths of shadows in the photographs.

The scale of the Bin Laden compound model is one inch to seven feet.

“It really puts it into perspective how large the compound actually is - or was, sorry, because it no longer exists,” Ms Fouche said.

The house itself was flattened earlier this year as Pakistan tried to erase all trace of bin Laden’s secret life.

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