THE US intelligence community has unveiled a scale model of the notorious Pakistan compound where Osama bin Laden spent the last few years of his life in hiding.
The model was built by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA) and used by military and intelligence leaders to plan the daring night raid on May 2, 2011, that killed the al Qa'ida leader.
Its scale is an exact 1:84. Every tree, bush, wall, animal pen, trash can and physical structure in the model existed at one time at the original compound in Abbottabad.
Everything in the model was based on details learned about the actual hideout, said Greg Glewwe, one of the NGIA officials presenting the display at the Pentagon.
Mr Glewwe said the replica was built using satellite imagery, along with other classified intelligence assets, presumably pictures from drones and CIA ground surveillance. Exact measurements were gleaned from a process called photogenic measurement, which in part involves measuring shadows to determine height of individual structures.
A US official familiar with the internal planning and execution of the attack said the mock-up was "an instrumental device in planning the raid that killed Osama bin Laden."
The official said the model was made several months ahead of the raid and was first assessed by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Then, when a decision was made to involve the military, the model was used to brief top officials.
Finally, the official said, the model was used to brief the team of US Navy SEALs and special operators who flew in and finished the job.
The model will reside permanently at the NGIA.