Osama bin Laden's city hideout: "Hour-long traffic jams" and cricket games

A Pakistan army soldier stands on top of the house where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Monday, May 2, 2011. Special report: The death of Osama bin Laden AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

A Pakistan army soldier stands on top of the house where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

While Americans have long pictured Osama bin Laden isolated from modern life in an ancient mountain cave, he was instead found and killed in a million dollar, thick walled compound just 35 miles from the bustling city of Islamabad in a city called Abbottabad. The city - with the same size population as Cedar Rapids, Iowa - has hour-long traffic jams, frequent blackouts and a cricket stadium. Some have noted that the neighborhood near bin Laden's compound is even visible on Google Maps

Abbottabad is named after a British major who lived there in the 1850's named Major Abbott. The British soldier was so moved by the city's natural mountain beauty he wrote a poem about it hailing its sweet air, pine trees and cuckoo birds.

An auditorium near bin Laden's house hosts famous poets and features evening arts classes for children.

Aside from being the home to Pakistan's version of West Point, Abbottabad also has a large medical school in town.

See photos of Abbottabad

Government officials say the compound was built in 2005. Since then there have been numerous earthquakes, one hitting Abbottabad so hard that 644 buildings had to be rebuilt. But while the city suffered its share of landslides and earthquake damage, local media reports from the last few years also note the opening of new chain stores selling chicken, call centers and IT professionals.

One such IT professional Sohaib Athar, who identifies himself as a software consultant, live tweeted the assault on bin Laden's compound.  After his inbox swelled with Twitter follow requests to over 72,000, Athar began to realize that his small town was about to be overrun by reporters and members of the military. While the President spoke at 11:30 PM ET, Athar tweeted, "I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. *sigh*".

  • Laura Strickler



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