The final hideout where the terrorism chief Osama bin Laden was found and killed last week was not some desolate cave but a large house in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, just an hour from the capital Islamabad.
Contrary to what a “million-dollar-plus compound,” as stated by the top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan on May 2, could bring to mind, no signs of luxury is found based on the photos and videos of the inside and outside of the three-story property.
The latest video footages released by the Pentagon showed Bin Laden in a woolly cap and wrapped in a brown blanket squatting in a squalid room with bare minimum furnishings and a 14-inch TV set, holding a television remote.
A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Bloomberg that the estimated value of $1 million had been based on a comparison with other real estate prices in the area, the size of the compound and the size of the buildings on it. The compound, which is surrounded by almost 800 feet of concrete walls, was said to be about eight times larger than other homes in the area.
When compared with several homes listed on a Pakistani real estate website called Zameen, people could purchase a rather luxurious residence for less than half a million, said Bloomberg. For instance, a fully furnished 7,200-square-foot, two-story home with six bedrooms was listed for $416,500 and another two-story with eight bedrooms measuring 5,400 square feet was listed for $291,550. The site did not list any homes in the city that cost over $500,000.
When it comes to the value of the land, the Associated Press had earlier reported that the four plots of land that were combined together to create the Bin Laden compound were purchased for $48,000 in 2004 and 2005. According to Muhammad Sabir Abbassi, a real estate dealer in Abbottabad, that same land would be valued at $200,000 today.