How Osama Bin Laden’s Laundry Led To His Demise

by : Julia Banim on : 31 Jul 2021 17:22
How Osama Bin Laden's Laundry Led To His DemisePA Images

A new book has been published that reveals some of the more surprising aspects of the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was killed at his compound by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, after having been in hiding for five years.


Despite being the most wanted man in the world at that time, bin Laden managed to keep himself and members of his extended family hidden from sight, with he, his three wives, children and grandchildren concealed within an acre of land behind high privacy walls.

Osama bin Laden (PA Images)PA Images

The unusual features of the property – which had no phone lines or Internet service – raised suspicion among members of the military, who began watching it from a nearby base.

However, as mundane as it may seem, the notorious al-Qaeda founder might have gone undetected for a little while longer had the family had a tumble dryer inside the house.


This is according to The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden by author and reporter Peter L. Bergen.

Among other fascinating insights into the final days of one of the most feared men of the 21st century, Bergen reveals that laundry hung out to dry on a clothesline just outside the compound had been the final piece in the puzzle for former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Osama bin Laden (PA Images)PA Images

Every day, the clothesline could be seen flapping with female garments, men’s shalwar kameez, children’s clothes and nappies.


After examining the range of clothing, agents worked out that the mysterious inhabitants would have to include an adult man, multiple adult women, and at least nine children. This set-up fit exactly the make up of the household they were searching for.

Although agents were never able to put together concrete evidence of bin Laden living behind the secretive walls, ‘they also never found evidence that undercut the notion that he was living there’, as per Bergen.

The laundry situation was enough to convince Panetta, who presented the findings to then-president Barack Obama, ultimately leading to the fateful raid.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News


  1. Amazon

    The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden: The Biography