Osama Bin Laden’s Compound: Photos From Outside, the Neighbors Speak


Sohaib Athar, or @ReallyVirtual, the civilian who accidentally live tweeted the raid on Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, went from several hundred Twitter followers to nearly 100,000, basically overnight. Athar, who describes himself as “an IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops,” has been tweeting photos from the area around Bin Laden’s compound, along with details on what he sees. He’s also working on an FAQ, he says — we’ll update when that comes out. In the meantime, here are some of his photos of what’s happening, after the jump.

He tweets: “The guy with the cap was asking the reporter to show proof of OBL’s death before he’ll answer any questions.”

“The street behind the hideout. More smiles than frowns.”

“The compound area.”

Meanwhile, the neighbors are speaking. The Atlantic Wire has gathered some of the details in a post called “What It’s Like to Be Osama bin Laden’s Neighbor”: Bin Laden lived in “Bilal Town, a leafy, upper-middle-class neighborhood with many retired Pakistani army officers in the city of Abbottabad.” The Bin Laden family was apparently pretty reclusive; one neighbor says people only left the compound to go to the mosque; other residents say there were security cameras to spy on anyone who approached.

One day last month, according to Bloomberg, a neighbor knocked on the gate to recommend turning off the compound’s powerful security lights because electricity is so expensive. A Pakistani opened the door and grew angry, inquiring, “Who told you to come here?”

Perhaps the weirdest and most oddly human news is what they ate.

Rashid and Akbar Khan, who owned bin Laden’s compound, drove to his store regularly in a Pajero or small Suzuki van and bought enough food for ten people, favoring Pepsi and Coke equally. Qaisar said the Khans “always bought the best brands–Nestle milk, the good-quality soaps and shampoos. They always paid cash, never asked for credit.” He added that while he was curious about why they bought food in bulk, “I did not want to be rude by asking.”

What It’s Like to Be Osama bin Laden’s Neighbor [Atlantic Wire]
Bin Laden Aides Bought Big Orders of Pepsi, Coke, Grocer Says [Bloomberg]
Twitter account of Sohaib Athar @ReallyVirtual