Within hours of bin Ladens death, Google Maps users had marked the location of his compound in Abbottabad.
Abbottabad has a reputation as a quiet, orderly part of Pakistan, home to any number of retired Pakistani army officers. Google Maps reveals several schools, hospitals and universities (including Pakistans equivalent of West Point) in the immediate area.
As seen in this Google Earth image, the compounds high walls, security gates and isolation on a dirt road had intelligence officials believing it held a high-value target.
For years, many experts believed that bin Laden was hiding somewhere in the rugged border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, seen here on Google Earth.
As this Google Maps image suggests, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is devoid of towns and infrastructure, in theory making it an ideal place to hide for long periods of time. The presence of U.S. drones in the skies over the area, however, has made it more dangerous for Taliban and al Qaeda personnel.
Burial at Sea
Following the raid on his compound, U.S. officials decided to bury bin Ladens body in the northern Arabian Sea.
In the mid-1990s, bin Laden set up base in Khartoum, Sudan. He was later expelled from the country, and headed for Afghanistan, where he had participated in the 1980s war against the invading Soviets.
Following the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden was sighted at several points around Jalalabad.
In December 2001, bin Laden and followers took refuge in Tora Bora, a cave system built into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Despite a massive U.S. bombing campaign, followed by a ground assault on the stronghold, bin Laden managed to slip away.
Years later, bin Laden would be found in an urban area not far from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Hiding in (relatively) plain sight, it seems, proved successful for only so long.