A civilian satellite captured what appear to be clear, overhead images of the North Carolina mock-up of Osama bin Laden's compound used by SEAL Team Six to train for the top secret mission to take out the al Qaeda leader.
The images, posted on several satellite imaging websites as well on the map function for the search engine Bing, show what looks like a brand new, mostly open-air building complex in a rural town in North Carolina that is strikingly similar to the layout of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
One satellite imaging website, TerraServer, provides DigitalGlobe images from different dates, apparently showing that the building was constructed sometime after Jan. 14, 2011, as reported at the anti-secrecy website Cryptome.org Tuesday. While one image reportedly taken from Feb. 15 shows several vehicles at the complex as well as what appears to be a construction crane, another from just two months later, April 30, shows no vehicles at all and the complex apparently abandoned.
The next day, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a daring raid by American troops.
The final available satellite image of the compound, from October 2011, shows it has been completely leveled.
The book "No Easy Day," which was written by a former Navy SEAL on the mission under the pseudonym Mark Owen, revealed that the elite team repeatedly practiced overtaking bin Laden's home at a look-a-like complex in North Carolina.
"Nestled in a remote part of the base, the practice compound was built to scale using plywood, chain-link fence, and shipping containers," Owen writes. "The level of detail on the mock-up was impressive. The construction crews at the base had planted trees, dug a ditch around the compound, and even put in mounded dirt to simulate the potato fields that surround the compound in Pakistan… The construction crew didn't ask why and never said no."
The CIA, which led the intelligence side of the bin Laden mission, and the Department of Defense declined to comment for this report.