India: We Told US bin Laden Was Not in a Cave

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 10:04 AM

By Martin Gould

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The signs that Osama bin Laden was holed up in a Pakistani city rather than a cave were all there for years — if only successive administrations had known where to look.

Even a group of ecosystem students from UCLA predicted the terror leader’s whereabouts in a 2009 paper.

And the Indian government said it too told the U.S. twice where bin Laden’s lair was — but were not treated seriously, The Times of India reports.

The Indians say they passed information to U.S. authorities back in 2007 that Al Qaida’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was in the Pakistani capital Islamabad less than 40 miles from Abbottabad, the town where bin Laden was found.

“We told them about Zawahiri visiting Islamabad and we also told them that we believed Osama may not be hiding in caves but in a highly urbanized area somewhere near Islamabad. a top Indian intelligence official told The Times.

Early the next year the Indians again passed on intelligence that they believed bin Laden was in a military “cantonment” area such as Abbottabad because he was seriously ill and would not have been able to go to a regular hospital.

The UCLA students also said there was little chance of bin Laden hanging out in a cave. They predicted there was an 88.9% chance that he was in a city in northern Pakistan within 200 miles of his last known hideout in Tora Bora, Science magazine reports.

“Caves are cold, and you can’t see people walking up to them,” UCLA geographer Thomas Gillespie said.

“The theory was basically that if you’re going to try and survive, you’re going to a region with a low extinction rate: a large town. We hypothesized he wouldn’t be in a small town where people could report on him.”

The UCLA students actually predicted that bin Laden would be in a town called Parachinar near the Afghan border but even so Science says the results — using the same system geographers use to study endangered birds — were “none too shabby.”

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