For the scion of one of the richest families in the Middle East, bin Laden certainly was careful with money. He had only a few changes of clothes and was paying the two bodyguards who were his only connection to the outside world around $100 a month each, according to the report.
The Abbottabad commission also examined the recruitment of Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, who, according to the commissioners, was paid 10 million rupees by the CIA -- around $10,000 -- to mount a hepatitis-B vaccination program in Abbottabad to locate the bin Laden compound by extracting blood samples from the bin Laden children. The CIA hoped to compare the DNA of the bin Laden children to DNA the U.S. government had already obtained from other members of the bin Laden family.
Afridi met with CIA officials on a number of occasions, including with two female operatives named "Kate" and "Sue," who posed as officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dr. Afridi's CIA handlers provided him with a satellite radio so they could stay in touch with him and easily track him.
Two weeks before bin Laden was killed, Dr. Afridi arrived outside the bin Laden compound. He called one of bin Laden's bodyguards on the phone seeking entry, but the bodyguard told him there that no one was at home. The CIA plans to extract blood samples from the bin Laden kids never panned out.
Afridi is now serving a 33-year prison term in Pakistan for what the independent report characterizes as the "trumped-up charges" of providing support to the Taliban.
Pakistani government failures
The report found that the at the time of the raid on bin Laden's compound, the Pakistani Air Force was focused on its traditional Indian enemy on its eastern border and its radar systems were in "peacetime mode" on its western border with Afghanistan. This helped explain how the U.S. was able to insert four helicopters into Pakistan without detection.
When the Pakistani Air Force finally scrambled jets to intercept the American helicopters they were long gone from Abbottabad.
The report faults local officials in Abbottabad for their "collective incompetence and negligence" for not paying more attention to the mysterious compound where bin Laden was hiding out. And it faults Pakistan's intelligence agencies for not mounting any kind of serious effort to discover if bin Laden was living in Pakistan. The report also lambastes the same intelligence agencies for not detecting the "nationwide CIA network" in Pakistan.
On two occasions the report makes reference to bin Laden's "diary" which was recovered at the Abbottabad compound. Hopefully, the U.S. or Pakistani government will at some point make public the contents of that diary, which will doubtless provide important new insights about the life and thinking of al-Qaeda's founder.
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