Former Pakistani army officer Shaukat Qadir has written the most detailed account yet of Bin Laden’s life inside his Abbottabad compound and how he avoided detection since 9/11. One overlooked detail jumped out at me because it supports a story about Osama Bin Laden going to Iran to meet with top officials.
Bin Laden’s youngest wife, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, toldher Pakistani interrogators that during his first few years in northwestern Pakistan, he shaved his beard and tried to look like a Pashtun elder.
In his 2005 book, Shadow War, Richard Miniter talks about two former Iranian intelligence officers who have provided accurate information in the past. They told him that Bin Laden entered Iran on July 26, 2002 and personally saw him near Tehran on October 23, 2003. Bin Laden had trimmed his beard and wore a black turban, similar to an Iranian cleric. As far as I know, this is the only alleged sighting of Bin Laden to say that his beard was trimmed down and changed his outfit to look like a cleric, a description similar to what al-Sadah said.
Al-Sadah also said that during this time Bin Laden crossed back into Afghanistan and then met back up with her in Pakistan in 2004. This is exactly what the two officers said happened. Bin Laden “moved freely with and crossed into Afghanistan at will, usually through an Iranian border checkpoint near Zabol.” This is important because the conventional wisdom was that Bin Laden would not dare re-enter Afghanistan after it was invaded.
There is one other piece of supporting evidence to add. Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, famous for being the only journalist to interview Bin Laden after 9/11, was told by his contacts close to the Al-Qaeda chief in July 2002 that if he wanted another interview, he’d have to go to Iran. This lines up with what the two officers said.
Ken Timmerman wrote in his 2006 book, Countdown to Crisis, that he had sources with “direct knowledge” of a meeting between Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and top Iranian leaders in late 2004. The two Al-Qaeda leaders wore turbans and looked like Iranian clerics, as Miniter’s own sources told him. Bin Laden looked “frail and old” “an intravenous tube was strapped to the back of bin Laden’s hand.”
You can read my thorough reports on Bin Laden’s possible visits to Iran after 9/11 here andhere. You can also read a detailed story by John Loftus about how the U.S. might have missed an opportunity to kidnap Bin Laden in Iran by ignoring a tip-off from a falcon smuggler by clicking here.