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We Had Dinner With Bin Laden In 2010, Men Tell BBC

Following the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, the image of the al-Qaida leader was one of a man in hiding, watching himself on videos and plotting.
AFP/Getty Images
Following the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, the image of the al-Qaida leader was one of a man in hiding, watching himself on videos and plotting.

The story that Osama bin Laden never left his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during the last five years of his life takes a hit with word from the BBC about a dinner the al-Qaida leader reportedly attended in the summer of 2010.

Two men who say they were at the dinner in Northwest Pakistan claim it was arranged by an "important man" they wouldn't identify. They didn't know beforehand that their guest would be the world's most wanted terrorist, the men tell the BBC. Bin Laden, they say, traveled in a convoy of "a dozen big, four-wheel-drive" vehicles. "Armed men took positions at the main gate, along the walls and on the roof," they claim.

There's a key issue raised by this tale, as the BBC says. If bin Laden was indeed able to move about, was he getting help from some Pakistani authorities? After all:

"The area where he [allegedly] showed up in 2010 is in the middle of a vast tribal hinterland which was, and to an extent still is, the focus of a number of military operations against militants. Troops stationed there were on high alert and had set up dozens of security checkpoints to monitor commuters along both regular and rarely frequented routes.

"How did he get past those posts undetected?"

As we said Tuesday, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is set to post online documents seized from bin Laden's compound by U.S. Navy SEALs one year ago during the mission that ended with his death.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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