THE children in the white mansion with closed circuit cameras in Abbottabad never came out to play.
Only now, after a stunning US assault that killed Osama bin Laden in the small, tranquil Pakistani city and put it under an international spotlight, is it all starting to make sense.
The al-Qaida leader, widely believed to be hiding in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, was actually one of the mysterious neighbours next door — acutely aware that one false move could tip off US intelligence agents hunting him.
“We used to play cricket near the house but their kids never joined us,” said Nabeel, 12.
“The kids did not go to school. We never saw them going to school,” he added.
Abbottabad will never be the same after US special forces arrived by helicopter early Monday, entered the mansion set beneath soothing green hills and killed bin Laden, ending one of the most extensive, high-profile manhunts in history.
Dumbfounded residents are retracing the few activities they observed from the mansion, which towers above other houses in the area in size and value.
Residents had tried to come up with some answers. They must be a religious family so that’s why the women were never seen, kept inside.
But that didn’t explain why the men of the house never attended weddings or funerals — unusual in Pakistan’s deeply traditional Muslim society.
Irritations over the odd behaviour built up.
During religious holidays many of the people of Abbottabad gave each other sweets.
But those in the house where US officials say America’s public enemy number one lived in comfort were so anti-social that others never bothered to knock on their doors during those special occasions.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved