A visit to Bin Laden's hideout (2006)

Updated: Mar 19

In April 2006, I travelled with three colleagues by car along the Karakoram Highway from Islamabad to Abbottabad. The journey was uneventful, despite the fact that I drove for part of the way.

As I was driving, one of my colleagues asked me to stop at a mosque so that he could pray. Five minutes later, he told me that I had already passed several mosques and wondered why I had not stopped. He asked if I knew what a mosque looked like. I told that I did and as he was the first person that I had driven to a mosque, I wanted to find a nice one.

A few minutes later, I pulled off the road and parked outside a beautiful white, newly built mosque. All three of my colleagues went into pray, leaving me in the car to work on the Daily Telegraph crossword.

The sight of me doing the crossword while waiting outside the mosque drew some attention. I assumed that not many Westerners had visited in this small North West Frontier Province village. I smiled back at them as they vanished into the mosque for prayers.

Back on the road, we continued until we reached Abbottabad. There we completed our business and then headed back to Islamabad. My colleagues would not let me drive. I was too slow they complained and we needed to get back before nightfall if possible.

What I had not known at the time was that Osama Bin Laden had moved to Abbottabad in June 2005. Our meetings were in a building that could only have been a mile or so from where he was living.

He did not invite me in for tea...

#pakistan #abbotabad #osamabinladen #karakoramhighway #mosque #northwestfrontierprovince

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