Reports: CIA monitored bin Laden for months

US officials reveal that a clandestine safe house was used to spy on the slain al-Qaeda leader before his death.

    Osama bin Laden was killed in an Abbottabad compound after an extensive US surveillance operation [AFP]

    The CIA spent several months monitoring Osama bin Laden's hideout in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, watching and photographing residents and visitors from a rented house nearby, according to US officials quoted in the New York Times and Washington Post.

    Extensive surveillance of bin Laden's hideout led to his killing in a Navy SEAL operation, the Post reported US officials as saying.

    Observing from behind mirrored glass, CIA officers used cameras with telephoto lenses and infrared imaging equipment to study the compound, and they used sensitive eavesdropping equipment to try to pick up voices from inside the house and to intercept cellphone calls, the Times said.

    A satellite used radar to search for possible escape tunnels.

    US officials, quoted by the Post, said the safe house was the base for intelligence gathering that began
    after bin Laden's compound was discovered last August.

    The network relied on local informants and other sources to piece together a "pattern of life" in the compound where bin Laden had been living in secrecy in a compound surrounded by towering perimeter walls, the Post said.

    "The CIA's job was to find and fix," the Post quoted one US official as saying, using special forces terminology for locating a target.

    "The intelligence work was as complete as it was going to be, and it was the military's turn to finish the
    target."

    The operation was so exhaustive the CIA asked Congress to reallocate tens of millions of dollars to fund it.

    Plans of another attack

    US officials told the New York Times that intelligence gathered from computer files and documents seized at his compound showed bin Laden had for years orchestrated al-Qaeda attacks from Abbottabad, and may have been planning a strike on the US rail sector this year, the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    One US official said there was no indication from the intelligence that further plans were drawn up for the railway plot or that steps were taken to carry it out.

    The US department of homeland security said it had no information of an imminent threat.

    The fact that bin Laden was found in a garrison town - his compound was not far from a major military academy - has embarrassed Pakistan and the covert raid by US commandos has angered its military.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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