When was the compound built?

The Bin Laden compound was identified by US intelligence sources as long ago as last summer - after a courier trusted by the al-Qaeda leader to keep him in touch with the outside world was spotted in Abbottabad.

compound images from 2004,5,20101

An image released by the Pentagon shows there was no building on the site in 2004 but by 2005, the first buildings had been erected. Over the intervening years, more buildings have been put up on the site.

Compound in Abbottabad The compound, located in a weathly suburb of Abbottabad, is much larger than nearby houses

The compound is on the outskirts of the town of Abbottabad, a hill town, 35 miles north of Islamabad, at the end of what was then a relatively isolated dirt road.

Other homes have since been built in the area, which is described as a wealthy suburb, home to many retired military officials.

Security was clearly an issue for the owner. The compound is surrounded by 12-18ft walls, topped with barbed wire. Access to it is restricted by two security gates and the residents burnt their rubbish - rather than put it out for collection.

The main structure, a three-story building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace on the third floor has a seven-foot wall around it.

Intelligence analysts concluded that the compound was custom built to hide someone of significance. It is valued at approximately $1million, but has no phone or internet connections.

The courier who eventually led the way to Bin Laden's home was first identified four years ago, but it took another two years before US sources were able to establish the areas of Pakistan where he operated.

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