Abbottabad, the exact location of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with American Navy Seals (Update Videos)

Following a tip received by CIA in August 2010, the US intelligence community determined that Osama Bin Laden is located in Abbottabad, in North-West Pakistan, about 100 km North of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. He was found, in a “mansion” and killed with two shots (one to the head and one in the chest) by a team of 25 SEALS.

3 D map of the compound

Department of Defense Diagram of Osama bin Laden Compound in Abbottabad via New York Times
Department of Defense Diagram of Osama bin Laden Compound in Abbottabad via New York Times

The map below overlays Osama’s last home diagram released by the Department of Defense onto its exact location on Google Maps. Zoom in to see it in greater detail. Click “Earth” in the upper-right corner of the map to see the diagram in 3D. You might have to install the Google Earth Plugin. It takes about 30-60 seconds for the 3D model to load.

Alternatively, download the Abbottabad Osama bin Laden hideout mansion KMZ model and run it in Google Earth (right click to Save locally, or left click to see directly in Google Earth).

(Model created by Stahlmandesign, posted on Google Warehouse).

Osama bin Laden Abbottabad Compound Fly-through

Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad Mansion is now a scenario in Counter Strike

The Abbottabad compound was also reproduced as a map (.bsp) for the the popular PC Game Counter Strike. This is a first person shooter game, in which players are put in the shoes of the Seals team (or Osama’s gang). You can download the Counter Strike “Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad” scenario map  right now and here. To see or play it, you would have to download and install the game engine, from the PHPNUKE.ORG site. Installing the game might take up to an hour.

Osama Bin Laden Compound in Abbottabad reconstructed as a map for Counter Strike PC game
Osama Bin Laden Compound in Abbottabad reconstructed as a map for Counter Strike PC game. Shortcut to original source:

Inside the killing site of Osama bin Laden. Video

Abbottabad is a rather small (81,000 inhabitants) district capital, known for its clear air and temperate (by Pakistani standards) climate. Abbottabad is also known as a “spa” town, attracting tourists to the city since the colonial era. It is also a retirement city for senior military officials, called by the Independent “at the heart of the Pakistani military establishment.”

The compound is in the neighborhood of Kakul, not far away from a military academy.

Osama bin Laden’s Home videos show the chief terrorist living the life of an aging patriach

Bin Laden lived secluded, yet well informed through satellite TV and thumbdrives of which he had about 100 in the house. He spent a lot of time planning new attacks and was keenly interested in media coverage of his exploits. One ABC commentator, cited in the clip that follows, summarizes Osama’s predicament very well: “he was like an aging actor” watching his old movies and “imagining a come back.”

Press Briefing on the US operation


General information about the neighborhood where Osama Bin Laden’s masion is located

The location was identified after one of Osama’s courier’s was named by a Guantanamo bay terrorist detention camp inmate. The courier was then tracked to the compound in Abbottabad. The compound, 8 times greater than the surrounding buildings, stood out by its 15 feet (5m) tall walls, crowned with barbed wire. It is a relatively recent construction (2005-2006) and its value is estimated at 1 million dollars. The locals also noticed that the compound never put the garbage out, which was incinerated instead. Finally, despite its size, the mansion had no landline phone or Internet access. The details were revealed in a White House background briefing. The briefing provided these gripping details about the identification of the location and about the firefight.

What I’d like to do is walk you through the key points in that intelligence trail that led us to that conclusion. From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the CIA gathered leads on individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle, including his personal couriers. Detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan.

One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.

Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.

Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. Still we were unable to pinpoint exactly where they lived, due to extensive operational security on their part. The fact that they were being so careful reinforced our belief that we were on the right track.

Then in August 2010, we found their residence, a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad. The area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military. It’s also insolated from the natural disasters and terrorist attacks that have afflicted other parts of Pakistan. When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw — an extraordinarily unique compound. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area.

When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road. In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections — internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates

Continue reading the story on Details on Identifying Osama bin Laden’s Compound on How the Leader of Al Qaeda was Killed in the Special Forces Helicopter Raid

Compound images via Wall Street Journal

Raw footage of compound one day after the firefight

Books about Osama bin Laden (click on the images for more details)

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

18 thoughts on “Abbottabad, the exact location of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with American Navy Seals (Update Videos)

    • May 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

      HM… That corresponds to the purple pin. The location was first located on Google Map by an anonymous Internet source. I tend to give credence to either the red or the yellow pin (tack). The purple location seems to be too far. However, we just do not know for sure where it is. Come back for more details…

    • May 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

      One more note about the compound picture in the map. The map is from 2005 and no structures should be visible at that lcoation since the compound was built after that date. Again, we need more circumspection.

    • May 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      It’s final, that IS NOT the correct location. See above for the final location. Confirmed by the New York Times.

  • May 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

    “The compound marked by the green target mark is in the neighborhood of Kakul, not far away from a military academy.”

    On my computer at least, it’s a purple tack not a green target mark. The purple tack is definitely hard to see. Anyway its location appears to match the one given by the previous comment above: 34.18740000, 73.24272200 .

    • May 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Some things have changed in the meanwhile… A moving target… I edited and fixed the text and the map…

  • May 2, 2011 at 10:43 am

    May I suggest use the yellow pin for whatever is considered to be the primary location because yellow is so easy to see. Then use red and other colors, but not the practically invisible camouflage purple, for secondary locations.

    By the way that currently-yellow-pinned compound does appear to have interior buildings closer to the configuration which one of the networks showed in a computer graphic.

    But HM in the first comment above seems to be very confident it’s the currently-purple-pinned compound.

    This is all going to sort itself out within hours we can be sure!

    • May 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

      You are right, yellow would do better for primary location but I changed this map enough… I will end up confusing everybody… Will add another pin later, if confirmed….

  • May 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Ah I see you had already revised accordingly – and using the yellow pin.

  • May 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    So after further investigation we finally have the correct location. But there are still a few puzzling points. One, the photos of the fire fight were looking up at a property. It seems as though the land is fairly flat. Second, the man on Twitter that tweeted about the incident was said to be 250 Meters from the property and also seemed to hear a lot of the event unfold. He lived by the Jalal Baba Auditorium (according to his twitter posts – username @reallyvirtual), which is some 4+ miles from the incident. I am just seeing a ton of discrepancies at this point.

    • May 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Before becoming overly suspicious let us call these incidents the “fog of war.” In crisis situations, just like objects that we see in the car mirror, events, distances, and time seem to be closer or farther that they really are….

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  • May 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Notice Google has now updated the satellite photo of the bin Laden compound. In the first couple of days or so after the raid, a much earlier photo was present. One easy-to-see difference is the earlier photograph was taken before the wall was built around the west sector of the compound – you could plainly see a shadow of the wall in the main sector, but none in the west sector. Now you can see a shadow for both.


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