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Osama's AK-47 on display at ultra-secret CIA Museum

July 26, 2013 18:19 IST

Osama bin Laden's AK-47 rifle, found next to his body after he was killed in a daring midnight raid by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan, is on display at an ultra-secret CIA museum.

The AK-47 is a recent addition to a collection housed at a museum inside the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The museum displays the gadgets, artifacts and trophies of 70 years of spycraft, from World War II through to the War on Terror.

The museum is closed to the public and is only visited by employees and invited guests.

The Russian-made assault rifle, identified on a simple brass plaque as "Osama bin Laden's AK-47," shares a glass case with an al-Qaeda training manual found in Afghanistan soon after 9/11.

"This is the rifle that was recovered from the third floor of the Abbottabad compound by the assault team," curator Toni Hiley was quoted by NBC News as saying.

"Because of its proximity to (bin Laden) there on the third floor in the compound, our analyst determined it to be his. It's a Russian AK with counterfeit Chinese markings," he said.

Neither Hiley nor the agency disclose how the AK-47 got to the museum, with Hiley just saying that Leon Panetta, "asked that it come into the museum collection".

A source was quoted by NBC as saying that it came from the "dark side" of the agency, the operations staff that worked with the SEALs on the May 2011 raid.

The agency also does not comment on the specifics of how the weapon was recovered or whether it was loaded when retrieved.

"I wasn't there," said Hiley. "So I can't confirm or deny exactly where the weapon was. I just know that I have it in my museum and I'm happy to have it."

Hiley said the weapon is in good working condition, but that the origin of the Chinese markings is a mystery. She said it's not the weapon seen at Osama's side in many propaganda videos.

The CIA's private museum, which was started in the early 1990s, fills three corridors in two buildings at the CIA campus just outside Washington. Agency officials call it "the coolest museum you'll never see." 

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