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CIA spied on bin Laden from Abbottabad safe house

May 6, 2011 - Washington

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reportedly maintained a safe house in Abbottabad for its spies to conduct extensive surveillance over a period of months on the compound where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed by a Navy Seals team last Sunday.

The Washington Post quoted Obama administration officials, as saying that the secret CIA facility was used as a base for gathering the most delicate human intelligence, one that relied on Pakistani informants and other sources to help assemble a "pattern of life" portrait of the occupants and daily activities at the fortified compound.

The on-the-ground surveillance work was part of an intelligence-gathering push mobilized after the discovery of the suspicious complex last August.

It involved virtually every category of collection in the U.S. Arsenal, ranging from satellite imagery to eavesdropping efforts aimed at recording voices inside the compound.

The effort was so extensive and costly that the CIA went to Congress in December to secure authority to reallocate tens of millions of dollars within assorted agency budgets to fund it, U.S. officials said.

Most of that surveillance capability remained in place until the execution of the raid by U.S. Navy SEALs shortly after 1 a.m. in Pakistan.

The agency's safe house did not play a role in the raid and has since been shut down.


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