Did the CIA miss something?
News reports have cited unnamed intelligence officials saying that they've only recently stumbled upon rumors that Osama bin Laden had been holed up in a luxury residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and not -- as had been assumed -- in the badlands along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
However, an SF Weekly investigation has turned up evidence that Abbottabad may have been a logical place for the terrorism mastermind -- or any other wanderer seeking a wooded retreat -- to flee. We found long-sleeved T-shirts, mugs, keychains, and neckties, emblazoned with the slogan "I heart Abbottabad," all on Amazon.com. That suggests that this locale is a desirable destination, perhaps even for fugitive radical Islamists.
On a more serious note, the CIA has, in the past, missed important clues when trying to catch bin Laden -- exclusive, deadly-accurate clues published in the pages of SF Weekly.
In October 2001, SF Weekly pinpointed bin Laden's likely location in an abandoned gemstone mine in the Jalalabad Basin in the province of Nangarhar, east of Kabul, near Jalalabad. Eight years later, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report confirmed that our analysis had been correct, and that U.S. forces had missed a chance to capture the terrorist fugitive during a time when he was hiding exactly where SF Weekly said he was hiding.
We found him by enlisting top international geologists to investigate the geological formations in the background of videotape statements released by bin Laden. Per our 2001 report:
I had downloaded images captured from the bin Laden videotape, and attached them to an e-mail message.
On Sunday, Oct. 7, 2001, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and the Fox News Channel played a piece of videotape, culled from Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, that leapt from the television screen. A fatigues-clad Osama bin Laden spoke into a microphone in front of a light-colored, sedimentary-rock wall that appeared to be part of a mining excavation of some kind. Flanked by several lieutenants, bin Laden had an automatic rifle at his side and a smallish cave, apparently burrowed by humans, behind the left side of his head. Fissures in the rock wall seemed to emanate from the cave.
Fascinated by the challenge, those experts in turn recruited their colleagues, who, like all geologists, know that every region's rock formations are distinct, and that it's often possible to precisely identify a specific patch of land by observing rock formations. In Dec. 2009, the Senate report confirmed that bin Laden's location was within 20 miles of the Jalalabad Basin, a location identified in SF Weekly.
I sent out dozens of messages to geologists specializing in Central
Asia, and to mineral experts versed in the gemstones of Afghanistan. I
made phone calls to authors of geological texts, to seismologists, and
to emerald wholesalers.
as well as other intelligence and military sources are certain he was