During my travels, I discovered firsthand how media reports can widely circulate inaccuracies, sometimes with unfavorable consequences. In July of 2011, shortly after bin Laden was assassinated, I happened to be passing through Abbottabad, and yes, curiosity got the better of me.
What I saw differed greatly from the media accounts the world got to hear. The compound was situated in a rundown neighborhood, six or seven minutes from the posh Pakistani army quarters. Similar to the neighboring complexes, it was an austere, concrete multistory affair, sitting right off the unpaved dirt path. Barbwire atop looming walls encompassed the perimeter. Most crucially, unlike the State Department’s reports, the house was quite nondescript.
It was probably the last area the Pakistani military would even take a look.
Photograph by Shay Lari-Hosain