Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Businessman claims bin Laden reward

A covert raid by US Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 (AP)
A covert raid by US Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 (AP)
Undated handout photo issued by the FBI of Osama bin Laden. A US businessman claims he told the FBI where bin Laden's compound was in Pakistan, and is seeking a reward.

A US businessman says he told federal investigators the location of Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan years before his killing and is seeking a 25 million dollars (£15.7 million) reward.

A letter obtained by The Associated Press from a Chicago-based law firm representing Tom Lee says the 63-year-old gem merchant reported the location of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad in 2003.

The letter sent by the Loevy & Loevy law firm to FBI Director James Comey in August says a Pakistani intelligence agent told Mr Lee that he escorted bin Laden and his family from Peshawar to Abbottabad.

According to the letter, Mr Lee shared the information with customs and FBI agents.

Mr Lee reported that the Pakistani agent "was a member of a family that Mr Lee had done business with for decades," the letter said, and the agent and his family opposed bin Laden.

A request to speak with Mr Lee and Michael Kanovitz, the lawyer who signed the letter, was made to the law firm. The FBI did not immediately comment.

Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a Navy SEAL raid. US officials have said the Abbottabad house was not built until 2005, and Pakistani officials have said they believe he moved there in the summer of that year.

The letter said Mr Lee made "numerous attempts" to claim his reward but received no responses.

"Mr Lee precisely identified the whereabouts of the most notorious terrorist of our era, a man responsible for the World Trade Centre attacks, the most devastating act of terror committed on American soil, and numerous other assaults on Americans," the letter said.

Mr Lee told The Grand Rapids Press in an email yesterday that he could not understand why the government waited to act.

"It disturbs me, and it should disturb every American, that I told them exactly where bin Laden was in 2003, and they let him live another eight years," he said in the email.

Bin Laden had slipped away from US forces in the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora in 2001, and the CIA believed he had taken shelter in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan.

The US was eventually able to find bin Laden by tracing his courier, Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti.

One of bin Laden's wives told Pakistani investigators that she moved to the Abbottabad home in 2006 and never left the top floors.

AP

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