Secrecy markets in everything how to know you are living next door to OBL edition

by on May 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

The neighbor said if local children kicked a ball into the compound, someone from inside would pay the children for the ball rather than let them step onto the grounds.

From CNN, via MonkeyCage.

From the comments: “Not surprisingly, the kids understood incentives. The lead audio report now on the NYT says that the kids would be given 50 rupees (about $1.12 USD according to x-rates.com) and that they would therefore repeatedly kick the ball over the fence.”

rb May 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm

why not just kick it back? Did OBL have a huge collections of soccer balls? I guess that was what was under the tarps when the trucks drove away.

Rahul May 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Coz’ those must have been cricket balls and in a yard full of grass searching them is a bit of a task. Why bother?

RM May 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Not surprisingly, the kids understood incentives. The lead audio report now on the NYT says that the kids would be given 50 rupees (about $1.12 USD according to x-rates.com) and that they would therefore repeatedly kick the ball over the fence.

TD May 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

50 Pakistan Rupee = $0.59 (you probably looked at the Indian Rupee)

More important … whose money paid for those balls? Was it ISI? Pak Military? Pak govt??

libert May 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

How much does a soccer ball cost in Pakistan? I imagine more than $0.59…

Rahul May 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm

There’s something fishy about the details. This must have been a cricket ball. A soccer ball would cost way more than 50 rupees.

Rahul May 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

……I don’t mean a “professional” cricket ball. Those are more expensive. Kids usually play with a softer version made of rubber; kind of like a tennis ball but stiffer. The real cricket balls require protective equipment unless you want to bust your balls and such.

RM May 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Thanks for the correction. I did mistakenly use the Indian Rupee.

Ashish May 4, 2011 at 6:01 am

US taxpayers money.

AC May 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

And yet the Pakistani government, with a military installation just down the street, was allegedly unaware of this hideout for years and years.

chris May 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Yes, it really seems that there must have been AQ sympathizers/moles in some of the Pakistani government, military, and/or police in order to prevent this compound from being investigated, or maintain a false story about who lived there.

Jamie_NYC May 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

No, it was just like with the soccer balls: they would send someone to the compound to investigate, but instead of the person coming back, they would just receive money.

Terry May 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Not a military installation, their military academy. Its as if Hitler was found hiding out across the street from West Point.

foosion May 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

@rb – the ball could contain some spy gear (although if so, it could presumably broadcast)

@AC – there have been lots of cases of most wanted criminals living in plain sight in the US for years, and many people live in secure dwellings here without seeming to attract police attention. Some things are only obvious in retrospect

zbicyclist May 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

“And yet the Pakistani government, with a military installation just down the street, was allegedly unaware of this hideout for years and years.”

But a hideout for what? Does Pakistan have no equivalent of the Mafia? No drug lords?

I am reminded of my sister’s neighbors, two doors down on an 8-house cul-de-sac. Sure they seemed standoffish, but who knew they were running a meth lab?

Chatwin May 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I’m guessing some entrepreneurial kids got rich.

Mike May 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Why do places like CNN bother publishing useless “facts” like that? If the guard could pass the kid some cash, why couldn’t they just pass them the ball? I give that story a 2-in-10 chance of being true.

Nate May 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I think you’re being optimistic on those odds!

Rahul May 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

What’s the average income in the Abbotabad area? Wasn’t $25 million enough of an incentive for someone to squeal? Even if I were an ISI spy why wouldn’t I snitch, defect and then enjoy my tax-free $25million in Florida?

chris May 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Even if I were an ISI spy why wouldn’t I snitch, defect and then enjoy my tax-free $25million in Florida?

Because you doubt your ability to do so and live?

Because you have family members whose lives you value more than $25 million?

Or, of course, in the case of actual AQ members, because you’re a religious fanatic who will have no use for $25 million in the part of hell reserved for traitors. Real-life decisionmaking isn’t always idealized rationality.

Rahul May 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I think you underestimate the power of $25 million; especially when you live in a third world country. Ideologies, loyalties, theology are all fine but ultimately negotiable. It’s a matter of haggling over the price.

OTOH, I always took the US to be cheapskates about Osama. The reward should have been much higher than $25 million. If you are going to spend billions on indirect programs why not directly incentivize the goal. A hundred million more dollars could have yielded results much faster. And that was peanuts for DoD.

Neal May 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

And yet that $25m reward didn’t do jack.

TD May 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm
chris May 4, 2011 at 9:54 am

I think you underestimate the power of $25 million; especially when you live in a third world country. Ideologies, loyalties, theology are all fine but ultimately negotiable. It’s a matter of haggling over the price.

I think you overestimate the universality of the importance of money in human motivations. Some people are highly money oriented and some are not. Which are more likely to be found in AQ? Is it a career path to wealth?

Rahul May 4, 2011 at 10:47 am

I agree with you: some people are easy to motivate with money, others not at all. But security and secrecy are only as strong as the weakest link. So even if one person out of so many squeals, Osama is compromised.

Of course, whatever I am blabbering doesn’t explain why the reward did not work in practice. I admit I’m puzzled.

jkm May 7, 2011 at 12:06 am

Yes, people have no interest in money in the third world. that is why Pakistan is among the most corrupt countries in the world. And they rejected the 20 billions in American aid.
People like money. They will sell their souls for it in every single country in the world

Anders May 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

This is in conflict with what I heard on Swedish news today; it was claimed that bin Laden would even invite his neighbors to the house and let children play there – a boy was interviewed saying that he thought Osama and his wives and children were very nice and that they had given him two rabbits.

suburbaninsight May 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I for one am not surprised OBL was hiding in a comfortable suburban area– where better else to live a quiet life with tall fences?

k May 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm

yes it seems like he was waiting.

bork May 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm

A soccer ball in Pakistan would cost at least 150-200 rupees. This story doesn’t add up.

DCCTV May 4, 2011 at 3:43 am

I am wondering whether they have enough money to organize the soccer team.

Marco May 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

The original quote is no longer in the CNN story that the post links to. Perhaps they had second thoughts as well…

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