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Family's Laundry Gave Away Osama Bin Laden's Location, Book Claims

Jake Massey

| Last updated 

Family's Laundry Gave Away Osama Bin Laden's Location, Book Claims

Osama bin Laden's location was given away by his family's hanging washing, a new book claims.

The al-Qaeda founder was killed in Pakistan in 2011 after the US military were finally able to track him down, and it seems drying laundry helped them to locate the terrorist.

The bizarre giveaway is detailed in a new biography, entitled The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden.

The terrorist was killed in 2011. Credit: PA
The terrorist was killed in 2011. Credit: PA

The book - written by Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst - recounts how the CIA got a big breakthrough in its search for bin Laden in 2010, when agents were able to tail his bodyguard, who led them to bin Laden's secret compound in Abbottabad.

The large compound had a number of unusual features, such as a high wall surrounding the balcony on the top floor. It also lacked telephone lines or internet service and had unusually few windows.

Monitoring the property, agents noticed that rubbish was burnt on the site, whereas neighbours put out bins for collection.

Inhabitants of the compound also seemed to survive on food harvested from within.

But the telling clue was the washing that was hung out to dry.

Assessing the array of clothing on the line, agents were able to deduce that the hidden inhabitants of the compound must be comprised of an adult man, several adult women, and at least nine children - a perfect fit for the polygamous patriarch they were seeking.

Hanging washing outside the compound was a big giveaway. Credit: PA
Hanging washing outside the compound was a big giveaway. Credit: PA

Agents never managed to gather concrete evidence, such as a photo of bin Laden, but 'they also never found evidence that undercut the notion that he was living there', Bergen writes, as per the New York Post.

It was enough to convince President Barack Obama, and bin Laden was eventually executed in a US military operation in May 2011.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the operation, Obama recently looked back on it with Admiral William McRaven, who was working as commander of the special operations forces that conducted the raid.

Obama revealed that he made one last call to Admiral McRaven before the mission.

He recalled: "Two reasons I did that.

"One, no matter how highly trained those warriors were, there was still enormous risk to a mission like that.

"But the second reason I think it was important for me is that, as Commander-in-Chief and certainly here in Washington, a lot of times these issues of war are treated as abstractions.

"And we forget that these are folks who have families and loved ones and that they are carrying a burden on behalf of hundreds of millions of Americans.

"And when you are Commander-in-Chief and you make a decision about a particular mission like that, it was one of those rare opportunities where I had the chance to say - not after the fact, not in retrospect, not when folks are coming home - but before they go that we don't take this for granted."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: terrorism, army, US News

Jake Massey
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