Trying to piece together Osama bin Laden's life prior to the US raid that killed him, Pakistani sleuths today focussed on Haripur district in the country's northwest after his Yemeni widow said the al-Qaeda chief lived there before moving to Abbottabad near Islamabad.
Security and intelligence operatives fanned out in Chak Shah Mohammad Khan, a village in Haripur district, after learning from bin Laden's widow that he had lived there for nearly two-and-half years, TV news channels reported.
Pakistani investigators tracing bin Laden's movements since his escape from Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains have discovered that he had been living in Pakistan's urban centres longer than they had thought, media reports said.
Bin Laden had apparently spent seven-and-half years in the Haripur and Abbottabad regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Amal Ahmed Abdul Fattah, bin Laden's 29-year-old Yemeni widow, has revealed that the al-Qaeda leader lived with his family in Chak Shah Mohammad Khan, a village in the Haripur district for nearly two-and-half years before moving with his children and grandchildren to the compound in Bilal Town towards the end of 2005, the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed officials familiar with the investigation as saying.
Chak Shah Mohammad Khan is located 34 km from the garrison town of Abbottabad and two kilometres southeast of Haripur town. Amal's revelation meant that bin Laden left Pakistan's tribal region sometime in 2003 to live in a settled area, the officials told the Dawn. She also told investigators that contrary to a widely held belief that the 54-year-old al-Qaeda leader required dialysis to treat a chronic kidney ailment, bin Laden was hale and hearty.
Since bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora in 2001, both Pakistani and American officials believed he was hiding in the tribal belt along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. "Imagine, this guy was living in our midst in Haripur and Abbottabad for seven-and-a half years and we all, both Pakistanis and Americans, had been looking for him in the wrong direction," one official remarked.