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16 May 2011

'Preserve Osama compound for sake of history'

By Zulfiqar Ali | From the Newspaper Dawn (Pakistan)

May 7, 2011 (2 weeks ago)

PESHAWAR, May 6: The reported plan of government to demolish the now famous compound in Abbottabad, where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was eliminated in a US forces raid, will be a sort of disservice to history, as a known historian and expert suggests that the building should be preserved for the sake of history. The sprawling walled compound, where the world`s most wanted and controversial character stayed, will most probably go down in the history as a common heritage for the mankind.

“You can`t change your history by demolishing buildings,” known historian Dr Mubarak Ali told Dawn while opposing the proposed demolition plan of the Osama compound. He said that some places became famous either because of their architecture or by some events, and such places should be preserved. “Germans have preserved Hitler period torture cells and Germans have learnt from their history,” Dr Ali observed.

Media has started quoting unnamed officials that the two-storey building would be demolished. The compound situated in Thanda Choa area of lower-middle class population has been the centre of worldwide attention after US Navy Seals carried out a swift midnight operation on Monday last.

Dr Ali said that Gen Ziaul Haq had demolished the cell where Bhagat Singh, the freedom fighter, was kept in Lahore. He said that the building was bulldozed, but Bhagat Singh was still remembered as a hero. The noted historian said that the US attack on the compound in Abbottabad taught that Pakistanis as a nation should refrain from meddling in the affairs of other countries and also look after their own national interests.

“By preserving places like the compound in Abbottabad will help the coming generation that how Osama was made a hero of America and capitalist world before 9/11 and then he declared Enemy No 1,” he maintained. These buildings were solid proofs that a person who was nurtured by the Americans finally became nuisance for his masters, he added.

Osama who has left behind a trail of controversies caused the world`s sole superpower to launch the largest ever manhunt in late 1990s and was finally poached inside a compound in Thanda Choa. Osama had also resided in posh University Town of Peshawar for several years along with his fighters in 1980s.

Other experts, who opted not to named, said that the world history was witness to preservation of buildings and places used by despots and dictators. For example, Germany has preserved the buildings of the Nazi period and converted the infrastructure into famous museums not only to preserve the German nation`s history but also to educate the coming generations. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Nazis located on the outskirts of Berlin has been converted into a museum. These places, including torture cells, have been properly preserved and are now part of the German heritage and history. Thousands of tourists from across the world visit these sites every year.

15 May 2011

Hopes for bumper tourist season in Abbottabad

ABBOTTABAD: Pakistani hoteliers in the now notorious town where Osama bin Laden was killed by elite US forces are praying the views and balmy weather still reel in bumper tourist numbers this year. Officials say the bin Laden episode might not dampen the inflow of tourists, since the peace of the city was barely disturbed and business has continued as usual.

Indeed, said one, it might even be a bonus. “I believe that tourism will not be impacted — rather, more people are coming to see the place where the incident happened,” provincial secretary for tourism and culture Azam Khan told AFP.

13 May 2011

Osama bin Laden Kill Site Shrine


A Pakistani woman poses for a picture with her daughter infront of the final hiding place of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 5, 2011. Pakistan faces the prospect of Osama bin Laden's final hiding place becoming a shrine or macabre tourist spot unless the military destroys a compound attracting hundreds of visitors a day.

The site in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011 by the US military and the CIA is already a celebrated media and tourist attraction and could become a shrine to bin Laden and Al Qaeda as the most world-famous site in Pakistan. This would be a crucial closure to the vast 9/11 memorialization in the US and elsewhere, a prime portion of which remains contested at WTC for grotesque politicization and commercialization.

Like other contested historic monument sites there may be short-sighted efforts to erase the facility to prevent it becoming a shrine -- as evidence of the crashed US helicopter was erased and Pakistani military and intelligence officials rush to obscure their failure to prevent the attack, or to conceal their secret complicity in it.

If bin Laden when killed continued to direct Al Qaeda, as the US government alleges, then the site may be enshrined and promoted as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Pakistan (AQP).

These comments on the site and compound begin an expansion of the more general and selective descriptions of bin Laden and his killing, some allege biased and distorted media manipulation, by the US and PK governments characteristic of wartime information management for public support.

This should not be seen as extolling bin Laden and Al Qaeda or to diminish attention from the grandiloquent monumentalization of the World Trade Center to which he and Al Qaeda will be immemorially if infamously linked. The dead are joined in silence against the raucous living unable to stop yelling and selling enshrinement and defilement.

This preliminary architectural commentary could be supplemented with more extensive forensic, political, social, historical, archeological and architectural investigation and documentation customary for historic preservation. Design and construction documents should be located and preserved. Photographs and measured drawings of the property should be prepared. Pakistani military, intelligence and police investigative material shold be collected and anlyzed.

Access to surveillance materials gathered by the US and its allied (including PK) governments for planning and executing the operation - in particular the audio-videos recorded by the attackers -- would be beneficial to describing and understanding how bin Laden was able to operate at the site, seemingly without detection, and what policies and measures were instituted to end his life in the manner it was done.

Published bloody photos of three victims killed with bin Laden and their rooms and furnishings are omitted here -- they are online. They offer interior architectural information herein referenced and could contribute to historical accuracy if materials from the US and its allied (including PK) governments are withheld to protect secret accountings.

Area and compound plans and exterior facades provide overall views. Comments on the facilities construction and details follow.


Bin Laden building allegedly violated building codes:

Pakistan allegedly plans to demolish compound:

obl-kill-mmo.doc      Bin Laden Kill a NatSec Media Manage Operation   May 8, 2011
obl-kill-protest2.htm Osama bin Laden Kill Protest Photos 2            May 8, 2011
obl-kill-protest.htm  Osama bin Laden Kill Protest Photos              May 6, 2011
reuters-dead.htm      Reuters Photos of Dead At Bin Laden Kill Site    May 5, 2011
so-kill.htm           Training Bases for Special Operations Killing    May 4, 2011
obl-kill.htm          Osama bin Laden Kill Site Eyeball                May 4, 2011

Osama bin Laden Kill Shrine

Area Site, North at Top


Compound Plan. Left to right: west courtyard, inner driveway, north courtyards, south courtyards, house, outbuildings, east courtyard.



Google Sketchup 3D

Exterior Facades

North facace, left, west facade, right.


East facade, left. North facade, right.


South facade, left. East facade, right.


East facade.



Drawing shown is 1/2 size. Full-size:

The actual plans for Bin Laden’s “pucca” house.

There’s understandably been much interest in the house in which Osama Bin Laden whiled away his hours while hiding in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. Photographs have been taken of the three-storey buildings, graphics have been produced to show the outline and design of the eight-bedroom property. But for those who have an interest in architecture and that sort of thing, here are the original plans, as produced by an Abbottabad architect.

A file held by the local authorities in the town shows that plans for the “pucca” (or proper) house were filed in the summer of 2004 by the man known as Arshad Khan, who is thought to have been Bin Laden’s courier. His ID card, Number CH 9613-753-20, believed to be fake, gives a date of birth as 09/06/1977. It is though the house was completed by September 2005, raising doubts about some reports claiming the property was raided by the Pakistanis in 2003. The file also shows that the occupants never paid any property tax, and that the completed building breached several guidelines. The file says the house had a “flush system” and a drainage tank. The official address on file is: House No 3, Street No 8-A, Garga Road, Thanda Chowa, Hashmi Colony, Abbottabad.

The architects for the plans were Modern Associates. One of the owners, Junaid Younis, said his father, Mohammad, had done the drawing, liaising with Arshad Khan through a property agent. “Lots of people come to us. We are more interested in making money rather than the individual,” Mr Younis told me.

Construction of the house:

Property owners who arranged construction in 2005: Brothers Arshad Khan and Tariq Khan (Source)
Architect: Muhammad Younis (Source)
Builder: Noor Mohammad (Source)
Construction cost: Rs 750,000 (Source)
Drawing above shows:
Names of owners are false.
Number of floors is less than built, 3rd Floor supplanted roof penthous.
Balustrade at 2nd floor not built.
Underground sewage system: septic tank, pit and distribution field.

Following is based on examination of photos:
Reinforced cast-in-place concrete columns, floors and roof.
Finish flooring is terrazzo with marble base.
Painted plaster interior wall finish.
Space between columns filled with solid brick which provides lateral bracing.
Exterior faced with stucco and waterproof coating.
Reinforcing bars protrude from the top of concrete columns for additional construction.

Window fans for windowless bathrooms and kitchens.

No windows at 3rd Floor west and east, with four window fans high at the north, for OBL security.

One of the three window openings at the 3rd Floor north appears unglazed, with a grille to ventilate the stair well. The two other windows appear inoperable fixed glazing.


There are probably glazed openings at the 3rd Floor south facing the enclosed terrace, though not visible in photos.

Exposed galvanized piping and tanks on the exterior are principally for plumbing (locations of spaces with plumbing can be identified by the piping points of penetration):

Horizontal and vertical piping for cold (uninsulated) and hot water (insulated with black material).
Vertical vent stacks -- large diameter for toilets and small for lavatories, showers, tubs and sinks.
Exposed leaders and downspouts for storm water drainage from roof, terraces and ledges.
Two roof top water storage tanks surrounded by an unstuccoed brick parapet.


What appears to be an exposed hot water storage tank on the west facade, mounted high, perhaps for a shower:


What appears to be a water supply connection from the street with rock for protection:



Four electric meters mounted on power pole may indicate four separate customers:


An un-stuccoed single-brick layer on the edge of the roof at west and north is perhaps a curb to contain storm water or the beginning of additional light-weight construction such as a parapet or screen.


At the 3rd Floor terrace, a portion of an unidentifiable structure is visible, constructed of wood and apparently hanging from the roof.




Inner driveway at west protects vehicular access without exposure of persons and activities.

North, east, south and small west courtyards around the house appear to be part of the original compound, the large west courtyard connected later.

Small north courtyard not visible from ground-level photos.

East courtyard for gardening and recreation with trees and plantings:


Former gate to east courtyard filled with brick.




Chopper debris being collected outside the compound.

West large courtyard

West courtyard photos show agricultural furrows before scaping after chopper debris removal.





The crashed helicopter landed in the west courtyard. If the new white structure in the west courtyard was occupied it is likely any occupants who appeared were shot.


Two gates in the east wall of this courtyard led to the inner driveway, then to the main house enclosure at its rear, then to entry into the house at its south side.


Photo below shows concrete pilaster and top beam with brick infill construction of the west courtyard southern wall (the crashed chopper tail fell outside the courtyard).


Photo below shows likely openings through two walls from which attack on the house was made. The dark opening beyond the courtyard wall opening leads to the kitchen which adjoins the stair to the upper floor where bin Laden was killed (see floor plan above).

Along wall at left are lengths of pipe, perhaps for an agricultural irrigation system.


South courtyard

South courtyard for utility and work, with several outbuildings and antenna mount (photo below shows at right mount after antenna removal).



Main compound gate and pilasters are newer than original building based on condition of stucco and recent gate design.


1. Intercom, center bottom. 2. Low-voltage intercom wiring exposed. 3. Newer stuccoed gate pilaster, right. 4. Older stucco fallen from wall. 5. Electric power cables exposed from power pole, then entering metal conduit (see below, four meters on power pole). 6. Two runs of plumbing piping, likely cold water due to lack of insulation shown elsewhere on hot water piping. 7. Exterior lighting fixture, might be battery-powered. 8. Concrete beam atop brick wall for stabilization and to resist weather deterioration. 9. Abandoned cabling.


Main compound gate and entrance corridor. Four electricity meters on power pole (three visible, another opposite hidden). Stucco partially fallen from interior wall. Barbed wire atop wall encircles the main house and east courtyard. The west courtyard shown at right appears to have been joined later -- stucco is newer, with barbed wire atop along three sides but not toward the main house. The east wall of this courtyard, toward the house, shows reinforcing bars protruding above pilasters for additional construction atop.