Architecture on the lam: The compound where Osama bin Laden was killed


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A flurry of attention is already being focused on the architectural details of the compound in northern Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. forces. The sizable collection of buildings in the city of Abbottabad, hidden behind a series of walls as high as 18 feet, is sure to join Saddam Hussein’s last known address among the most notorious examples of hideout architecture in recent memory.

For a terrorist often pictured carrying a walking stick and navigating a steep hillside in the remote mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the compound where Bin Laden was killed seemed surprisingly permanent -- and surprisingly urban. Bin Laden reportedly had been living for several years with his family on the second and third floors of the compound’s main building.


Among the most fascinating details to emerge about the operation so far: that U.S. government officials constructed one or more models of the compound in advance of the raid. As Times reporter Ken Dilanian notes, ‘Mock-ups had been constructed and rehearsals of the raid held while senior officials watched.’

Plans and photographs of the compound, which has already been located on Google maps, are here.

-- Christopher Hawthorne