Lahore, May 3 (ANI): On Osama Bin Laden's first death anniversary, two men have told the BBC how they played host to the slain Al-Qaeda chief exactly a year before he was hunted down by U.S. forces in Pakistan, raising questions about claims by Pakistan officials that Bin Laden lived in total seclusion for nearly five years, without once leaving his Abbottabad compound.
The two men, who preferred to remain anonymous, said one summer night in 2010 in Waziristan region, half a dozen men of the local tribal family waited for the arrival of a guest whose identity they didn't know. The family had been alerted about the visit weeks earlier, by someone they described simply as an "important person".
"At about 11pm, a dozen big four-wheel drive jeeps drove into the compound," one of the men said. "They seemed to converge from different directions." From one of the cars emerged Bin Laden.
"We were dumbstruck. He was the last person we had expected to turn up at our doorstep," said the man, adding that he kissed Bin Laden's hand and pressed it against his eyes in a gesture of reverence.
According to Daily Times, during the three hours that Bin Laden spent with them, they said he offered prayers, rested, ate the lamb chops, chicken curry and rice they had prepared for him and his entourage. All that time, his hosts weren't allowed to leave the compound, or let anyone in. Armed men took positions at the main gate, along the walls and on the roof, they said.
While departing, the vehicles left in a bustling confusion, heading out in different directions, giving the hosts little chance to determine which way Bin Laden's vehicle went.
The two men, however, refused to disclose the identity of the "important man" who had asked them to host Bin Laden. They were also reluctant to share information on who else was in the entourage.
The area where Bin Laden showed up in 2010 is in the middle of a vast tribal hinterland, which was, and 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. However, the fact that Bin Laden managed to pass by those posts undetected has raised many questions.
Pakistan has always denied having any knowledge of his whereabouts or providing any support to Bin Laden. Also, the identity of the "important man" who planned Bin Laden's itinerary, and the purpose of Bin Laden's visit remains a mystery. (ANI)
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