Rare photos of Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden living at a compound high in the mountains of Afghanistan have surfaced online, offering a glimpse into Bin Laden’s life prior to the devastating attacks.
The photos were released during the trial of Al Qaeda lieutenant Khaled al-Fawwaz, and were taken by Palestinian journalist Abdel Barri Atwan after he was invited to Bin Laden’s compound for an interview as part of the terrorist boss’ plan to spread his message of Western hate.
“He wanted media exposure,” Atwan told CNN’s Peter Bergen in 2006. “He wants to say, ‘Now I am an international figure; I’m not just a Saudi. I am aggravated at Americans who are occupying Saudi Arabia who are desecrating the Holy Land.'”
Bin Laden reportedly acquired a network of caves 14,000 feet up in the White Mountains, specifically chosen for its closeness to the Pakistani border as well as its ability to help him avoid capture and be protected from air attacks.
“I feel really secure in the mountains,” Bin Laden told Atwan.
The photos show the primitive conditions that Bin Laden lived in with his family, including a two-bedroom house made of mud and stone. During his time at the compound, his children reportedly suffered from constant hunger and ate mostly a diet of eggs, cheese and rice, the Daily Mail reports.
Bin Laden stayed in the compound until 2001, when he fled following the horrific attacks. He evaded capture until 2011, when he was killed at a compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan.