As 4 helicopters ferrying scores of US Navy Seals landed on the isolated mansion standing just 800 yards from the Pakistan Military Academy on the outskirts of Abbottabad city, the fate of its infamous inhabitant had long been sealed, in fact months in advance. 54 year old Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, the leader of the jihadist organisation Al-Qaeda and America’s enemy number 1, might have died in a hail of bullets, but it was path-breaking technology that ensured that he was dug out and cornered.
Ever since, the audacious 9/11 attacks, US agencies, especially the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) have been combing each link on the ground in the web to hunt down Osama. Over the past decade, there were times when they came to know about Osama’s location within a few minutes that he left the place. But the US forces kept at it, diligently sifting through the data and overhearing the airwaves for any detail that might be forthcoming. And that clue did come, finally, some 7 months back.
Back in August 2010, CIA operatives tracked a trusted courier of the world’s most wanted terrorist to a compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan. They were surprised to find such a high figure visiting a non-descript place. The second thing that convinced the operatives that something was seriously wrong, was when they found that the compound had no phone service, internet or even televisions, and the main building had few windows. Almost immediately, the spy satellites hovering above were trained on the mansion, picking up the contours. A digital model of the mansion was created and everyone and everything going in or out was profiled. And the more they peered, the more sure they were that they had their man. Finally, when the Seals landed at the mansion, they knew what they were after. Technology had given them the lead, which their enemy number one lacked. Continue reading