In the last months of his life, Osama bin Laden was a worried man as he was in a serious dispute with the two brothers who had been his bodyguards and the only link to the outside world from his hideout in Pakistan, according to newly declassified files.
According to letters released by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence that were recovered during the US Navy SEAL raid on bin Laden’s hideout in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad, by early 2011 the brothers were fed up with all the pressure that came from protecting and serving the world’s most wanted terrorist.
The brothers — Abu Muhammad and Abu Khalid — were two longtime members of al-Qaeda whose family hailed from northern Pakistan, not far from where bin Laden was hiding in the garisson city of Abbottabad. They did everything for the 54-year-old al-Qaeda chief before he was killed in the raid on May 2, 2011.
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Worried about the CIA hunting for him, bin Laden was confined to one building inside the large compound in Abbottabad, which the brothers had moved him to in 2005. Bin Laden was completely reliant on the two brothers both to maintain any semblance of control over al-Qaeda and its far-flung affiliates and also for the daily needs. But by January 2011, just four months before his death, bin Laden was having a serious dispute with the two brothers, CNN reported, quoting from the declassified documents.
Indeed, the documents portray bin Laden as entirely dependent on his two bodyguards, running out of money and paranoid that even his family members might have concealed tracking devices to home in on him. Bin Laden confided to one of his wives that the brothers who protected him were “exhausted” by all the pressures on them and were planning to quit.
Things got so bad with his two protectors that on January 14, 2011, bin Laden took the unusual step of writing the brothers a formal letter, despite the fact that they lived only yards away from him on the Abbottabad compound. In the letter, bin Laden said the brothers had been so “irritated” in a recent meeting with him that he was resorting to writing them a letter to clarify matters. He asked the brothers to give him adequate time to find substitute protectors.
Bin Laden then wrote a letter to one of his confidantes asking if he knew of any Pakistanis who could be trusted with “complete confidence” who might replace the two brothers as his liaisons to the outside world. Relations between bin Laden and the two brothers deteriorated to the point that they entered into a written agreement that they would separate sometime in 2011 or early 2012 and that bin Laden and his family would move away from the compound in Abbottabad.
Bin Laden and his two bodyguards were killed in the SEAL raid on his Abbottabad compound on May 2, 2011.