Bin Laden’s Hideout On Google The Whole Time?

UPDATED: Osama
bin Laden may have been the U.S.’s most wanted fugitive for the last
decade, but his comfortable mansion on the outskirts of Islamabad,
Pakistan was there for all to see – providing they had Google Earth and
knew where to look.

UPDATED: Osama
bin Laden may have been the U.S.’s most wanted fugitive for the last
decade, but his comfortable mansion on the outskirts of Islamabad,
Pakistan was there for all to see – providing they had Google Earth and
knew where to look.

In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s surprise announcement Sunday evening that U.S. Special Forces had located and killed bin Laden in Abbottābad,
Pakistan, curious Internet users have identified the possible location of
the now- infamous bin Laden compound using Google Earth and Google
Maps, on a winding road,  just off of Awami Kakul Road on the outskirts of Abbottābad, Pakistan, just a half mile from a Pakistani military academy.

While
the exact address of the extensive compound hasn’t been released, news
reports linked to the crash of a Pakistani helicopter used in the raid
put the location just a half mile from the Pakistan Military Academy
(PMA) in Abbottābad.
The description of the compound, at the end of a dirt road and close to
the academy, and reports that there had been significant construction
at the site since 2005, match up with Google Earth images of a compound two plots
close to the PMA academy at latitude 34°10’9.09″N and longitutde  73°14’32.44″E  latitude 34.1706116476 and longitude
73.2325023223
. A comparison of imagery from 2001 and 2005 show
significant construction on the plot, which was described by American
administration official as having 12 to 18-feet walls topped with
barbed wire and two security gates. You can view the two compounds showing construction on Google Maps here. Google Earth has more detailed imagery of the site dating to 2005.

The advent of sophisticated mapping and geolocation services have raised privacy concerns
in the U.S. and other Western nations. Notably, Google faced charges of
privacy violations from those caught out in public by cars equipped
with photographic equipment and used to keep its street level Street
View imagery current. The company also was accused of improperly
collecting data from Wifi hotspots as part of its Street View canvassing, in violation of privacy laws in the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

It
appears that bin Laden and his associates were aware of that danger.
The compound, though valued at $1 million, was not equipped with either telephone
or Internet connections. Its inhabitants also are alleged to have
burned their garbage within the compound rather than leave it on the
street for collection.

Correction: an earlier version of this
story included the incorrect longitude and latitude for the property
since identified as the bin Laden residence- in essence: pointing to the
wrong address in Abbottābad
. That information has been corrected in the story.

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Discussion

  • Dr. Obvious on

    Ummm, Paul, I like your work and often check Threatpost, but the headline on this article is a bit much...isn't it true that everyone's house is on Google the whole time???

  • Anonymous on

    Hey, Paul,

         Did it ever occur to you that we knew where he was years ago but were waiting to get the whole thing figured out before we took him?  Stick to computers, man.  Military intelligence is not your strong suit.

  • Anonymous on

    With all due respect, neither of the places depicted on the image you've shown is the compound that the CIA released as being the site of the raid. It's actually at  34°10'9.61"N  73°14'33.13"E on Google Earth. You can compare the Google Earth image to the diagram released by the CIA.

    http://www.zdnet.com/photos/where-on-google-earth-was-osama-bin-laden-screenshots/6227367

    The photo you've shown here was erroneously reported by CBS news. They were close though, and it was a good guess based on early but sketchy reports.

  • Metricom.us on

    The Lat/Long for this site had been reported to the National Security Agency by Metricom.us who had been monitoring World SatCom Phones purchased in Indon. by a group thought to be linked by Al-Q and transmissions were monitored at LAT 34 10 9.30N LONG 73 14 33.42E Abbottabad and was reported to the NSA and Homeland Security in over 189 instances over the last few years the latest in January of this year, the information was supposedly used in conjunction with other info re identifying individuals through the SatCom usage as operatives for Bin Laden

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