'People Were Skeptical' of bin Laden as a Neighbor, Abbottabad Locals Say

Before American forces tracked down and killed the Osama bin Laden, the leading global terrorist was a resident of Abbottabad, Pakistan. His giant compound, home to nine women and 23 children in addition to various men, remained secluded from the world, and as The Atlantic's Nicholas Jackson noted, cut off from most modern technology to the point of being a red flag. Nothing unusual characterizes the house itself--nice trees populate the grounds, and expensive SUVs sit behind mold-stained walls. Bin Laden lived there for six years, peacefully safe in the hilly garrison town.

But the terrorist still had neighbors, and he was apparently no Mr. Rogers. The Associated Press tracked down the Pakistani residents near Osama's fortress of solitude, and they report some shady happenings on the block:

Those who lived nearby said the [compound's] residents rarely strayed from the house, and most of the neighbors were not aware foreigners were living there.

Khurshid Bibi, in her 70s, said one man living in the compound had given her lift to the market in the rain. She said her grandchildren played with the kids in the house and the people in the compound gave them rabbits as a gift.

But the occupants also attracted criticism.

"People were skeptical in this neighborhood about this place and these guys. They used to gossip, say they were smugglers or drug dealers. People would complain that even with such a big house they didn't invite the poor or distribute charity," said Mashood Khan, a 45-year-old farmer.

Some residents recalled seeing two men the most often, who would occasionally attend a neighborhood gathering, such as a funeral. Both men were tall, fair skinned and bearded and described themselves as cousins from elsewhere in northwestern Pakistan.

Read the full story at the Associated Press.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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