On May 2, 2011, Osama Bin Laden, America’s most wanted terrorist, was killed close to 10 years to the day that he masterminded one of the worst terror attacks in American history (posted on YouTube). After being on the run for nearly a decade since he was identified as one of the main conspirators of the 9/11 attacks, the Al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts were finally made plain. He had been hiding out in Pakistan for the last five years of his life. The CIA learned about his possible location in a compound in Abbottabad in late 2010 and continued to follow this lead for months.
Despite never seeing the terrorist outside of the area of interest and uncertainty as to whether he was actually there, a covert operation was launched. In the early hours of May 2, SEAL Team Six carried out the highly celebrated mission that took down Bin Laden and several others at the house he was living in.
When the world woke up to hear the news, many were shocked to learn that Bin Laden was in Pakistan the last few years and living just a few minutes away from a Pakistani military school. The aftermath of his death would reveal a lot more about his final days. Photos revealed he lived in near squalor.
Life on the run was no fun
Being a terrorist and evading international authorities and governments for years is enough to make your time on earth extremely limited. And as a fugitive, that is exactly the life that Bin Laden led before his death. Though he was born in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan had been his home since 2006 (via The Guardian).
He lived with his family — several of his wives, children, and grandchildren, as well as a security detail in a large three-floor multi-room compound surrounded by high walls. Despite the size of the home, Bin Laden was only living in two of its two rooms — one of them his bedroom. As he had done for five years, in the last few days of his life he was living from those rooms as normal. He would be killed in the very bedroom in which he spent most of his time.
In the search of the home after he was killed, they found that Bin Laden was in possession of a lot of videos — mainly of videos of himself in interviews or films about his life (per History). This meant that he spent a lot of time watching films about who he was and the search to capture him. Bin Laden also had a stash of videos of himself rehearsing for public interviews, and kept shelves of books, some by American authors.
Bin Laden lived in utter filth
Video footage of Bin Laden’s house would reveal what life was actually like inside his compound. Of course, a home as big as his hideout, with more than a dozen residents, is not bound to being spotless. But in actuality it was lacking more than spotlessness. Journalists touring the site found that Bin Laden lived in squalid conditions. Piles of trash were present throughout the house, and many areas of it needed repair (via The New York Daily News).
Despite the house’s $1 million price tag (via The Daily Beast), the images didn’t show that. Most would assume a house of that value meant he was living a life of luxury. But of course as a fugitive, it wouldn’t be a smart idea to draw more attention to himself, especially given that his compound already stuck out like a sore thumb in the area it was located in.
The interior of the home told more stories about what his last few days were like. The bedroom where he spent the majority of his time had various types of medications for pain, and several others for digestion. He had been living with various kinds of discomfort for some time.
His bathroom was primitive. He did not have a standard toilet, or any semblance of one at all — he defecated in a hole (per CNN).
A terrorist vs. his security
While Bin Laden was surrounded by a lot of his immediate family in his final years and days, the security team that he used to protect them and himself from capture were displeased with him, according to another report by CNN. Since Bin Laden was a wanted fugitive, he was restricted to his compound. He never left it, leaving all outdoor activities and duties up to his eldest son and two men, who were brothers, who made up his primary protective team. But after five years of attending to his every need, they apparently grew weary of their grand task.
Revelation of their displeasure with guarding him allegedly made Bin Laden paranoid. So along with trying to lead and command his Al-Qaeda terrorist organization from the four walls of his room, he also had to find a new security team before they would quit abruptly — something he was in the process of doing just a few months before his death. There were plans for the men to leave their post of guarding him sometime in 2011 or 2012. However, the two men would die along with Bin Laden in the covert raid.
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