As the week begins, we're hearing more from Osama bin Laden's neighbors in Bilal Town, a leafy, upper-middle-class neighborhood with many retired Pakistani army officers in the city of Abbottabad. The Los Angeles Times describes the tourist destination, nestled in the Himalayan foothills, as "a quiet neighborhood of pastel-colored homes adorned with columns and terrazzo porches." It's now also a place with many startled residents (in the photo above, men sit on the debris from bin Laden's compound). One fruit vendor tells The Wall Street Journal that he and other locals are "stunned" that "such an important person was living--and subsequently killed--here."
Bin Laden's people, it seems, were a reclusive bunch. Locally, the Journal learns, bin Laden's heavily fortified compound, situated on an expanse of green farmland, was known as the "Waziristan Mansion," since neighbors believed it was owned by a man from the Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border. Residents tell the Journal that one man whom they saw entering the compound identified himself as Rashid but often changed his story, claiming one day that he was in the transportation business and the next that he was a money changer. Other neighbors inform CNN's Nic Robertson that bin Laden's people identified themselves as gold merchants and kept to themselves, rarely venturing outside. When local children kicked balls over the compound's walls, they couldn't retrieve them and received money from someone in bin Laden's entourage instead (the account makes the plot of The Sandlot seem lame). Other neighbor accounts describe people only leaving the compound to go to the mosque and the fleeting image of a "stout man driving a red van." One neighbor explained to Bloomberg that she knew Arabic-speaking women lived in the house because her children heard them through the gate one day.