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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The hideout: not exactly a needle in a haystack

OBL was ‘hiding’ in a million dollar compound across the street from a police station in a city where three army regiments with thousands of soldiers are based 35 miles from the capital city

Bin Laden's luxury hideout raises questions

By NAHAL TOOSI and KATHY GANNON
Associated Press

AP Photo
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Osama bin Laden made his final stand in a small Pakistani city where three army regiments with thousands of soldiers are based not far from the capital - a location that is increasing suspicions in Washington that Islamabad may have been sheltering him.

The U.S. acted alone in Monday's helicopter raid, did not inform Pakistan until it was over and pointedly did not thank Pakistan at the end of a wildly successful operation. All this suggests more strain ahead in a relationship that was already suffering because of U.S. accusations that the Pakistanis are supporting Afghan militants and Pakistani anger over American drone attacks and spy activity.

Pakistani intelligence agencies are normally very sharp in sniffing out the presence of foreigners in small cities.

For years, Western intelligence had said bin Laden was most likely holed up in a cave along the Pakistan-Afghan border, a remote region of soaring mountains and thick forests where the Pakistan army has little presence. But the 10-year hunt for the world's most-wanted man ended in a whitewashed, three-story house in a middle-class area of Abbottabad, a leafy resort city of 400,000 people nestled in pine-forested hills less than 35 miles from the national capital, Islamabad.

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said bin Laden's location meant Pakistan had "a lot of explaining to do."

"I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

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