Feb. 27, 2012 — -- Pakistani authorities have demolished the house in Abbottabad where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in May by Navy SEALs.
Heavy construction vehicles moved in Saturday evening and began pulling down the three-story structure during the night, according to local residents. By Monday, only portions of the outer walls remained. Police and military security accompanied the construction vehicles and cordoned off the surrounding neighborhood, preventing onlookers and journalists from approaching the site.
Bin Laden reportedly moved into the compound in 2005 and remained there until May 2, 2011 when a team of U.S. Navy SEALs acting on CIA intelligence swooped in via helicopter, shooting and killing bin Laden and four other men. Bin Laden's youngest wife and five children remain in Pakistani custody.
While Pakistani officials decided to destroy the house shortly after the U.S. raid, an ongoing investigation into bin Laden's death requiring forensic examination postponed the demolition. The Pakistani commission investigating the raid, the "Abbottabad Commission," is currently finalizing its report and no longer required the facility to remain standing as evidence.
Though authorities have not provided an official reason for the demolition, Pakistani intelligence analysts have expressed worries that the location could become a shrine for al Qaeda sympathizers. Analysts also claim that the government did not want the compound to continue to symbolize Pakistan's incompetence, since bin Laden had lived for so long in a house close to a major Pakistani military installation without being detected.
Some residents had told reporters that they believed the compound should eventually become a tourist site, though the Pakistani government kept the area firmly sealed to media and curiosity seekers since the raid.
The compound was owned by a courier of bin Laden, one of the men killed in the 2011 raid. It is not yet known who will take ownership of the property.