ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (Sputnik) - Almost 11 years since Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda*, was killed in the Operation Neptune Spear, eyewitnesses and Pakistani journalists that investigated the events told Sputnik they still doubt whether the whole raid was staged as there is no confirmation bin Laden was at the compound that day.
One of the Pakistani journalists who covered the operation on the ground, Suhail Abbasi, told Sputnik that he believes what happened in Abbottabad in May 2011 was nothing more than a performance to save Washington's face in front of the global community and American citizens.
"We are all sure that bin Laden was not in the building. But his family had definitely lived in the area for several years," one of the eyewitnesses, Raja Harun, told Sputnik.
Harun observed the entire operation as it was unfolding, up to when the Pakistani government released a statement called the Abbottabad Commission. He lived a few feet from the building where bin Laden was allegedly located. At first, there were no follow-up reports or other evidence that someone had died in the US raid, Harun noted. "Only later we, same as everyone else in the world, were surprised by the reports in the American and Western media that Osama bin Laden had been killed in our city. Then journalists, both local and foreign, began to arrive. This was followed by statements and congratulations from [then US President Barack] Obama on the killing of the head of the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. The fact that his body was thrown into the sea is just stupid and ridiculous," Harun said. Operation Neptune Spear was the code name of the US operation to eliminate the leader and founder of al-Qaeda. Since late 1990s, bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan with the support from the Taliban*, which ruled parts of the country. After the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington, which claimed lives of over 3,000 Americans, the United States demanded the extradition of bin Laden from Afghanistan. The Taliban's refusal to extradite the terrorist prompted the nearly 20-year-long US military intervention in the country. However, bin Laden managed to escape arrest after the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was overthrown by the US and its allies. For several years, the al-Qaeda leader continued to be politically active, constantly appeared on the TV and made new threats, while his location remained unknown. In 2010, the CIA tracked down bin Laden's courier who was visiting his alleged compound in the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan. The operation to kill the al-Qaeda leader commenced on 1 May, 2011, from Afghanistan, after months of surveillance and training the special forces to raid a copy of bin Laden's compound. The terrorist's body was transported to the base in Afghanistan's Jalalabad. There, the body was photographed and the day after, the DNA analysis confirmed that it was bin Laden. Afterwards, the body was taken to the USS Carl Vinson carrier in the Arabian Sea and dropped into the sea "in accordance with Muslim customs" before any independent party could confirm bin Laden's death.On 6 May, al-Qaeda confirmed that their leader was dead.