Osama Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound (big photo gallery, warning: graphic images)

By Xeni Jardin



Pakistani policemen walk past a compound, surrounded in red fabric, identified as the location where Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed on May 1 by U.S. forces in Abbotabad. The location is some 35 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The world's most wanted terrorist was hiding not in a cave, but in these cozy digs less than two miles from a major Pakistani military academy, described by some as the equivalent of West Point. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)


Above, a video frame grab from ABC News, shows the interior in the compound where Osama Bin Laden was killed on May 1. Below, a bedroom, possibly Bin Laden's own. More photos follow.










Published 9:59 am Mon, May 2, 2011

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About the Author

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

90 Responses to “Osama Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound (big photo gallery, warning: graphic images)”

  1. Ceronomus says:

    I still don’t understand how this is categorized as a “Mansion,” other than for spin purposes. Yes, the place is large…but it looks like an absolute dump inside and outside. The term “Mansion” certainly conjures up a much nicer place than this.

    • IWood says:

      Yeah, really. Kind of puts a new spin on that whole “Living in opulence while Muslims died” thing. Reminds me of Waco.

    • TraverJ says:

      It is called a Mansion because it is much bigger than the surrounding houses in the area. It is being reported as being 6 times larger than the places near it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree! I was thinking the same thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      The French etymology of Mansion is as a place “to stay”, a station, usually owned by a presiding lord. What it doesn’t mean is McMansion, which is probably the image most conjured in their minds when they heard the news.

      • krawll3r says:

        Can I say in regards to Ceronomus’s comment, that this is NOT a French website. “McMansion” was a bit of a rude and insensitive comment—possibly directed towards Americans?

    • krawll3r says:

      I completely agree that this is more like a dump than a mansion. However, to the Pakistani people, this is huge and “living it up.” (Sadly)

    • Anonymous says:

      haha i was thinking the same thing…property value must be through the roof in Abottabad if that place is worth a million dollars, like they claim. wasnt much like that mansions Saddam was living in, which was basically constructed with marble

  2. Anonymous says:

    Need to update translation software: “Mansion ≠ Meth Head Flophouse”

  3. Rob says:

    Nuke it from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure. Bomb Pakistan, one of the US allies. This will let all the allies of the US know how safe they are. Treaties already mean very little to Americans. Keep in mind that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and can retaliate. When Pakistan does that it will give the Indians the go ahead to bomb Pakistan. And away we go into a nuclear world war. Pakistan, like many Muslim countries does have terrorists. Those terrorists are focused on everyone who does not believe as they do and this includes all countries with Muslims. These terrorist kill other Muslims all over the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Michael Biehn is the best Navy Seal/space marine ever!

  4. AirPillo says:

    It looks like a pile of trailers.

  5. jimh says:

    Wait, that is our *exact* BBQ pit!

  6. noah says:

    … it looks like an absolute dump inside and outside.

    I’m sure the interior was much nicer before, you know, the raid by a team of SEALs. Less blood, at least.

    • zuludaddy says:


      Can’t recall the source, but I’ve read that though the firefight was over in moments, the JSOC operation spent 40 minutes on the ground. During the balance of the time, the compound was “searched” by the 20 member team for any computers, communication equipment, ledgers, etc., so as to gather as much intelligence on al Qaeda’s methodology, plans, etc. as was possible. Of course the place was trashed…

  7. Dean Putney says:

    Terrifying. I would not have wanted to be there. Certainly a reminder that this act alone is not something to be celebrated.

    • Anonymous says:

      True, but i think the symbolic closure nevertheless has some value, especially if it helps to bring a close to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • Jack says:

      Certainly a reminder that this act alone is not something to be celebrated.

      I celebrate the fact he died the way he wanted to and doing exactly what he loved: Creating hate, destruction and chaos in the shadows while avoiding the light of day. Don’t give humanity to this piece of crap.

      • SamSam says:

        One unfortunately thing that this reminds me of: some terrorists believe that being killed in the act of fighting grants one instantaneous access to heaven. Strikes me that some of his allies are going to be very pleased that he died this way, rather than being captured and hanged.

        • Jack says:

          One unfortunately thing that this reminds me of: some terrorists believe that being killed in the act of fighting grants one instantaneous access to heaven.

          Nonsense. The groups who admired Bin Laden—and not just Al-Qaeda—have so many variants of what cna do what and what has value for who and who goes where because of this that my attitude is: Who cares. His corpse was dumped in the ocean.

          Had he been captured alive and put on trial it would have easily been a very long and drawn out process that would have created more strife and conflict and would have given supporters a physical location to rally against. And that is to say I am not against trials, but in this case he clearly admitted guilt, overwhelming evidence pointed to him and there was not even a glimmer of doubt—reasonable or otherwise—to stand in the way of Bin Laden being responsible for his actions.

          He’s dead. He said he would have liked to die this way. He did die this way. And now he’s at the bottom of the ocean.

          The only way to deal with someone like this is to wipe out their physical existence. Hitler had the courtesy to kill himself, but the concerns about his corpse being a rallying point were so strong—and valid—his remains were dug up and spread out over the the river Elbe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for saying EXACTLY what I felt when I first heard the news last night. The only thing I feel right now is shock and sad that so many people had to die or experience sadness as a result of war.

  8. Anonymous says:

    anybody else notice that white scale? What was he selling meth out of there?

  9. Editz says:

    Opulence. I no has it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sweet waterbed bro

  11. sindbad says:

    Folks, it’s all relative. This was a “mansion” by Pakistani standards. It was valued (supposedly) at a million dollars and existed in an affluent neighborhood where many retired Pakistani military officers lived.

    Mansion in Pakistan != Mansion in Savannah

    • Boba Fett Diop says:

      Mansion in Pakistan != Mansion in Savannah

      Great, now I’m picturing Bin Laden flouncing about with a fan in some sort of antebellum hoop skirt.

  12. caipirina says:

    I would not wanna live there … no internet … no boingboing …

    • Anonymous says:

      Would it be irony if it turns out he’d somehow sprung for the NFL season package on cable?

  13. chgoliz says:

    Based on these photos at least, it’s hard to know whether or not this domicile is out of place in comparison to other homes in the area. It seems to be furnished in a way that doesn’t make sense, based on the size and complexity of the compound, but maybe that was purposeful (to keep curious neighbors at bay, or so he could be seen to be living the martyr’s life).

  14. Digilante says:

    Um, why is this marked as containing “graphic images”? There’s nothing graphic here, unless you’re referring to a bit of blood.

    I demand a dude-gets-head-removed-with-blunt-wooden-stick chaser! Need to get my fill of gore for the day.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      Everyone’s definition varies, and some people find blood and depiction of a murder scene even without bodies to be upsetting.

      • xzzy says:

        FYI, an image with blood in it shows up on the main index page.

        I always figured the “read the rest” link was the dividing line between safe-for-everybody and everything else.

      • MattB says:

        Fun fact: images are inherently graphic. I suppose they could be tactile, but not on a computer monitor.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I just assumed that the warn-off was because of the decor.

    • Tatsuma says:

      Have you tried Kaotic? Some pretty incredible stuff over that away…

  15. IronEdithKidd says:

    That’s a lot of screen grabs of the same blood stain. Yuk.

    Oh well, we were warned.

    Don’t give the terrorists too much credit for their possible house-cleaning skills prior to the raid. I have a hard time imagining the SEALS took the time to partially remove that one awning and plant those weeds on the second floor balcony.

    • dculberson says:

      “I have a hard time imagining the SEALS took the time to partially remove that one awning and plant those weeds on the second floor balcony.”

      Maybe one of the team members was an avid gardener, you never know!

  16. Anonymous says:

    This place needs added to this site:

  17. Anonymous says:


    I think we just wasted a gabagabarillion dollars hunting down the equivalent of cult leader hiding out in a tiny white-power encampment in the woods of arkansas (no offense, Arkansas, but I had to pick somewhere and I really like Kentucky and Tennessee so my options were limited).

    Speaking of which, how much money do we spend ferreting out those idiots?

  18. blendergasket says:

    I can’t help thinking this will lead to an expansion and not a contraction of the war on terror.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Ding dong, the witch is dead. So…let’s celebrate by actually resolving the Gitmo issue.

  20. Anonymous says:

    looks a lot more like a counter-strike map than I thought it would when I heard ‘mansion’

    unfortunately none of the game modes in counter-strike would work for re-creating the scene

  21. newe1344 says:

    Seals spent 40 minutes at the compound, my guess is the firefight lasted no longer than 5 min. The place looks like its been turned over twice for intelligence…

    This makes me wonder if killing Osama will really have the intended affect on al-Qaeda. The scary version is if they don’t retaliate at all. This would indicate new leadership, if they retaliate and make mistakes they look incompetent and brash. If they wait, they will appear calculated.

    It was a good plan to dispose of the body in the ocean, but there is still a physical place on land where he was killed. No matter what the US does, his followers will see him as a martyr for their cause.

    It’s not over by a stretch. Honestly, his terror campaign was effective considering how much affect this organization has had on the activities of our government and the hearts of our people (not to mention the resources we spent trying to find and kill this guy).

    I think it sends the opposite message, that terrorism is in fact a viable way to fight a super power.

    • dargaud says:

      “It was a good plan to dispose of the body in the ocean, but there is still a physical place on land where he was killed. No matter what the US does, his followers will see him as a martyr for their cause.”

      Raze it to the ground. Build a supermarket mall on it. If followers want to worship their martyr there, consumerism will win !

  22. artiefx0 says:

    According to Wikipedia, the exact location of the compound is here, in north-east Abbottabad.

    Judging from the photos linked from Google Maps, some of the neighboring houses are actually quite a bit nicer.

  23. Jack says:

    I think it sends the opposite message, that terrorism is in fact a viable way to fight a super power.

    Can you please explain a more viable way to fight people like this?

    The war in Iraq was ridiculous. The war in Afghanistan was too little too late. That all caused a mess. But do you deny finding folks like this and killing them is a good thing? THIS is the guy that Bush should have gone after to begin with. If that was the case the “war on terror” would have made sense. As it stands the invasion of Iraq was/is a disaster. And that is the main problem with the “war on terror”; I accept the rest.

    • Burntgerbil says:

      A better way to fight someone like this ? Maybe John Pershing had it right when he did it his way in the Philippines.

      I also agree that the mansion looks like a pile of trailers.

  24. Suburbancowboy says:

    Bin Laden compound: Good or bad for neighborhood property values?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Okay as someone who lives in Pakistan, let me just clarify that every house here is surrounded by big boundary walls, so there isn’t anything unusual about these. It certainly doesn’t look secure enough to be a place where the most wanted man in the world would hide. It just looks like any other normal (albiet huge) house here.

  26. newe1344 says:

    @Jack – Agreed. However, Islamist extremism isn’t started by people like Osama, it’s only inspired by them. If you look at the root of the problem it begins with radical Madrassas where children learn at a young age to think in a way that makes them more susceptible to extremist views.

    A single Tomahawk Cruise Missile costs around half a million dollars. That single missile could pay for literally 500 schools where children could be educated to think for themselves. If we fought terror with systemic change it would be harder for guys like Osama to find recruits.

    I agree, he needed to be killed. I was just trying to emphasize that fighting him on his terms is exactly what he wanted and a tremendous waste of resources.

    I do applaud Obama for making the decision to kill him and also for mocking of D. Trump recently.

    • Jack says:

      A single Tomahawk Cruise Missile costs around half a million dollars. That single missile could pay for literally 500 schools where children could be educated to think for themselves. If we fought terror with systemic change it would be harder for guys like Osama to find recruits.

      I am in complete agreement. I hate military waste as well, but your argument makes more sense in the case of helping the poor and disadvantaged in the U.S. Every time anyone builds non-loon schools or even nice non-loon amenities, these loons either blow it up or pervert it’s use. For example, soccer fields used for executions.

      So if you feel you can simply devise a way to “airlift” this magical money to someone in mid east to just be used for good causes without outside support to allow these good causes to thrive, then please call up Hillary Clinton then let’s get on it!

      For example, this piece of crap was hiding in Pakistan in a very comfortable area and very close to the capital of the country. How exactly has our financial aide to Pakistan benefitted anyone there other than the corrupt government?

    • mcv says:

      Half a million dollars for 500 schools? That’d mean a single school would cost $1000. I think your math is a bit off.

      On the whole I agree with your notion that investing in education is a lot more productive than investing in weapons, though.

  27. emo hex says:

    I’m confused, I have seen two locations for this compound in the media, one is 2024 meters north of the other, which is it?

    • artiefx0 says:

      Well, you can see what looks like the minaret of the Ilyaasi Mosque in the background of the first photo, which is much closer to the north location.

  28. semiotix says:

    I’m not quibbling with the “million-dollar mansion” aspect of things, but except for the funky-looking trees and the fact that the armed men are probably carrying submachine guns rather than hunting rifles, that exterior shot could easily have been a construction site in any town in the Appalachians.

  29. peter x says:

    Whats the digital scale doing on the floor in pic 5?

  30. voiceinthedistance says:

    Creepy. He’s got the exact same Laura Ashley bedding that my mom has. Different shams, though, and he butched it up by not opting for the bed skirt. Whew!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Why is no one asking, “Were others killed in this “home invasion?”

  32. Anonymous says:

    Just a question: don’t DNA tests take a minimum of DAYS to complete? Or has real science caught up with CSI: New York?

    • Anonymous says:

      Depends on how deep a test one is running. Obviously, a full sequencing of someone’s entire genome takes a significant amount of time, but a quick gel electrophoresis to determine the key marker locations that indicate family heritage can be performed in a matter of hours, especially if the lab concentrates on rushing it. The reason that crime labs take a matter of days or weeks (in real life) is more down to bureaucracy and the fact that they have a queue of samples to process.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Umm… where is the bulky dialysis equipment? Wasn’t OBM supposed to be in pretty much acute renal failure since 9/11? There is usually bags of disposable plumbing, big comfy chairs, medical waste and the like lying around wherever there is dialysis happening. Maybe he popped out to the local clinic every other day for dialysis?

  34. Anonymous says:

    It looks like a prison…

  35. Anonymous says:

    There’s also what looks like CPAP (sleep apnea) tubing in the background.

    • icerg says:

      “There’s also what looks like CPAP (sleep apnea) tubing in the background”.

      Nah mate, there is a hoover (vacuum cleaner) in a box in an earlier pic, what your seeing is it’s hose.

      Not very clear pic’s but there seems to be a lack of bullet holes in the walls.


  36. Rebi says:

    It is a barbarian act to kill an enemy like this when you have enough time to prepare an intervention. A living Bin Laden could answer all the important open questions.

    The U.S. commando feels messy like Munich 72. Not very professional.

    • Teller says:

      That got my attention. What would you have asked him?

    • chgoliz says:

      And to follow up on Teller’s question: what do you think he would have told you?

    • jtegnell says:

      Actually shooting him dead on the spot is probably the least barbaric thing I would expect the US to do.

      Considering that the US routinely tortures its own citizens who haven’t been convicted of anything (Manning), and in many cases brutally tortures non-Americans for years and years, some of whom are most likely innocent (Guantanamo), I can’t imagine what they’d do to the guy. Some very creative minds would surely come up with something — the CIA have been honing their skills.

  37. Ipo says:

    I advise everybody to sell all your Paki real estate now.
    Valued around a million US-bucks this “mansion” indicates there is one hell of a bubble.

  38. mudshark23 says:

    “Osama Bin Laden got nothin’ on me,
    Gonna put him in a box in th’ bottom of th’ sea.
    With a monkey and a dog,
    and a pig and a snake,
    and a Fish and a Jew,
    and an ass fulla CAKE.”


  39. mudshark23 says:

    “Put GOD before COUNTRY… mass hegemony.
    Worship your money inna church called a bank.
    Pagan Idolatry.”

  40. Nicky G says:

    Xeni, to call this a murder scene strikes me as being a bit, well — over the top. If you’re to the level of pacifism where you feel that executing a military operation that ended up killing the dude who was responsible for 9-11 is the same as murder, fine, you’re entitled to your opinion I guess.

    I, for one, thank the brave Navy SEALs who executed this mission, and I think it’s utterly ridiculous and pathetic to refer to them as murderers.

  41. Anonymous says:

    That “incredibly thin piece of foam on a coffee table” bed in pic #9 looks hella comfy. I don’t think we even gave that a shot back in my college flop-house days…

  42. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know what dexter would say to the way the blood is spreaded?

    Does it really look like this when a head explodes???

  43. Anonymous says:

    Fortress! Mansion! c´mon!

    All this crap comes from the guys who brought you: Saddam´s WMD, Beware of Vaccines, Noah´s Ark was real, et al.

  44. Anonymous says:

    wow look at all the high tech gadgets in there!

  45. IlluminatedOne says:

    I’m sure the ‘infamous terrorist Bin Laden’ is nothing more than a mythological propaganda puppet created by the US to justify wars in the middle east, but if someone WAS assasinated, doesn’t the fact that all this blood is in a BED suggest that the killing took place whilst he and his family were asleep? Safely qualifying ‘point blank range’ as achievable?

    I have to side with Castro on this one – the assasination of an unarmed human being while surrounded by his own relatives is something abhorrent.

    Anyone who looks deeper into the details of 9/11 than the media are prepared to reveal will see there are too many suspicious inconsistencies involved to be coincidental – if something seems dodgy it usually is!

  46. IlluminatedOne says:

    And also, if you re-arrange the letters of ‘Osama Bin Laden’ you get ‘lob da man in sea’ – obviously the deciding factor for the justification of his disposal…

  47. jackfrost says:

    Has anyone yet commented on the quality of the interior photos? They’re terrible, even a cellphone camera has better resolution than that. Surely there is a reason for this. Perhaps seeing a gore splattered bedroom in crisp HD would have brought the horror of the event too close to home.

    • Anonymous says:

      Either they’re stills from a video recording or they’re fakes which were deliberately made to look bad for chaotic effect.

  48. Bingbong says:

    That is quite a rug! I absolutely love the window treatments; they frame the beautiful, lush greenery of the surrounding hills wonderfully!

  49. Anonymous says:

    The term ‘mansion’ was coined by the locals…the house has been known as the Waziristan Mansion (The Waziristan Haveli) for quite a long time, more probably due to the interior sq ft than any luxuries. The blue prints, which show the home before it was evidently enlarged, indicate sq ft of approx. 2700 sq ft….not a mansion, but big by Abbotabad standards….?