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.
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.
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.