“The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death.” — Afghan jihadist Maulana Inyadullah
Life inside bin Laden’s comfortable and well-protected compound: “Bin Laden Aides Are Said to Have Bought Pepsi, Coke in Bulk,” by Anwar Shakir for Bloomberg, May 4 (thanks to Twostellas):
May 4 (Bloomberg) — The two polite Pakistanis who helped Osama bin Laden hide in the shadow of their country”s army bought bulk food orders, chose major brands and equally favored Pepsi and Coke, neighbors and a local shopkeeper said.
Rashid and Akbar Khan owned the fortified residence where U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in an early morning raid May 2, and did the daily shopping in the Pashtu-language accents of Waziristan, a region on the Afghan border, said grocer Anjum Qaisar, 27, who works 150 meters from the compound. Bin Laden”s men “never came by foot, they always drove a Pajero or a little Suzuki van, and they bought enough food for 10 people,” Qaisar said in an interview yesterday.
“I was curious about why they bought so much food, but I did not want to be rude by asking” such a personal question, Qaisar said. The Khans told neighbors they had fled a violent tribal feud in Waziristan to seek a calmer life in Abbottabad, an army headquarters town 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.
A day after the gun battle that revealed bin Laden”s presence, his former neighbors expressed astonishment that the al-Qaeda leader had hidden among them, just a mile from the gate of the Pakistan Military Academy, the country”s equivalent of West Point in the U.S. Eight days before U.S. helicopters swooped in, Pakistan”s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the academy, telling its cadets the “Pakistan army is fully aware of internal and external threats to the country,” an army statement said last week.
The U.S. will investigate whether bin Laden”s support network included Pakistani officials, White House counter- terrorism adviser John Brennan said on NBC”s Today show. Abbottabad”s district government chief, Zahir ul-Islam, said in an interview that local officials would not comment on that issue or on the fate of several women and children from the house that local residents said were taken to a hospital and then detained by authorities.
As Qaisar and other neighbors traded stories of bin Laden”s household and the U.S. raid, Pakistani troops controlled access into Bilal Town, their neighborhood of new, walled villas interspersed with farm plots where bin Laden”s 1.5-acre compound was the biggest. Qaisar was one of few merchants who braved the checkpoints to open for business yesterday.
Bin Laden”s protectors “always bought the best brands — Nestle milk, the good-quality soaps and shampoos,” Qaisar said. “They always paid cash, never asked for credit.” They purchased meat from a butcher nearby who stayed closed yesterday, he said….