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CIA to revisit bin Laden house for thorough search

Last updated on: May 27, 2011 15:54 IST

CIA to revisit bin Laden house for thorough search

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A team of Central Intelligence Agency forensic experts team will fly to Pakistan to search the compound where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed. The American spy agency will use sophisticated equipment to search for possible Al-Qaeda materials hidden inside the walls at the site.

United States officials said the team may arrive in Pakistan within days and head to the compound in Abbottabad, 120 kilometres from capital Islamabad, with an objective to scrub the site for items that were not recovered by American commandos, The Washington Post reported.

The CIA has been given the nod by the Pakistan government to enter the complex which it had previously scrutinised only from a distance, using satellites and stealth drones. The CIA suspects that bin Laden might have created hidden cavities within the complex to store away highly secret al-Qaeda documents.

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Image: Osama's mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters
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An encouraging sign of cooperation

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The Navy SEALs team which carried out the operation against al-Qaeda chief only managed to lift hard-discs, computers and other material in the room, where they killed the terror mastermind.

"The assault team was there only for 40 minutes," a US official said. The aim is to return to the site "to do another, more thorough, look."

"CIA Deputy Director Michael J Morell negotiated access to the Abbottabad site during a trip to Islamabad last week, when he met with the head of Pakistans main intelligence service, Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha," the Post quoted US officials as saying.

Pakistan's agreement is seen as an encouraging sign that the two spy services will continue cooperating despite anger in Islamabad over the American operation to kill bin Laden, and a series of recent ruptures between the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Post said.

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Image: A US Navy SEAL

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The largest intelligence haul ever recovered

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The Post quoted the officials as saying that Islamabad has also agreed to allow the CIA to examine the materials recovered by Pakistani security forces from the compound. The CIA has also asked ISI for assistance in analysing some of the records that were seized in the raid and brought to a CIA document exploitation facility in Northern Virginia.

"In particular, US officials said that the CIA is seeking help in deciphering references to names of individuals and places," the Post said. US intelligence officials have described the stash of material recovered from the bin Laden compound as the largest intelligence haul ever recovered.

The materials include dozens of computer storage devices as well as thousands of pages of paper. Even so, US officials said they want to be sure that other material has not been overlooked.

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Image: Local residents try to look past the gates into the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters
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No evidence of tunnels underground

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"The CIA plans involve the use of infrared cameras and other devices capable of identifying materials embedded behind walls, inside safes or underground," the report said.

The Post said Pakistan agreed in part because it does not have such equipment and breaking through portions of the structure to conduct a search might risk destroying any materials hidden inside.

The CIA also has equipment that could be used to recover information that has been burned or otherwise damaged. US officials said they have seen no evidence that there were tunnels underneath the compound.

The CIA has already been given access to three of bin Laden's wives who were taken into custody by Pakistan, but officials say none of them has been cooperative with US interrogators or provided meaningful intelligence.

Image: A drawing, released by the United State Department of Defence, shows the compound that bin Laden was killed in
Photographs: Reuters
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