Cloud Computing: Osama bin Laden Compound, Hiding Places Seen on Google Maps, Earth

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-05-03 Print this article Print
The Compound

The Compound

Within hours of bin Ladens death, Google Maps users had marked the location of his compound in Abbottabad.
Osama bin Laden's death in Pakistan at the hands of U.S. Special Forces marks the end of a years-long search. Although the terrorist mastermind had managed to avoid using computers or cell phones that could have alerted intelligence services to his location, it was his reliance on one of the world's oldest methods of communication—human couriers—that allowed the CIA to pinpoint him in the tiny Pakistani town of Abbottabad. On May 1, President Barack Obama announced that Navy SEAL operatives had raided a three-story compound and, after a brief firefight, shot bin Laden to death. Even before Obama took to the podium, Twitter buzzed with rumors of bin Laden's death, and news Websites like The New York Times experienced notable slowdowns from droves of readers thirsty for information. As more information leaked, users also headed to Google Maps to "pin the location of bin Laden's compound. Some left notes satirizing the hideout as the world's worst vacation spot. ("You always get this feeling you're being watched.) Indeed, thanks to services like Google Maps and Google Earth, the masses can now follow bin Laden's infamous career from Khartoum and Jalalabad to the tribal areas where he reportedly hid following the U.S. invasion in the wake of 9/11, and the area of Pakistan where he met his violent end.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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