Washington: In a new revelation, a top US official has for the first time disclosed that American special forces had recovered a telephone from Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound in Pakistan, shedding new light on the so far known description of the al-Qaeda chief's hideout.
Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, by special US commandos in a daring night raid in Abbottabad.
So far top US officials have insisted there was no internet or telephone service connection coming into the compound and that bin Laden completely relied on human courier to send his messages across or communicate with his aides.
The claim of a telephone being recovered from bin Laden's compound was made by Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in Department of Treasury, at a conference on money laundering, during which he highlighted the significance of "suspicious activity report" or SAR which is being implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its fight against terrorism.
"The FBI relies tremendously on SAR information to support its current investigations and to identify subjects we may have missed. We depend on the financial institution SAR information being complete and accurate," Ms Calvery said, adding that these are FBI's words.
"For example, after bin Laden was taken care of, we searched all SARs referencing Abbottabad, Pakistan. If the institution had written a SAR concerning something in Abbottabad but had only stated Pakistan, then we would have missed it, and that SAR would not have been reviewed," she said.
"As a matter of fact, our search did have one SAR referencing Abbottabad that also contained a telephone number with that individual. Our check of the SAR and telephone number determined the subject had called a telephone number in Abbottabad that had also been called by a telephone recovered from bin Laden's compound. That is worth us looking at," Ms Calvery said.
"If the financial institution had not included the phone number, we would not have made a connection, and no further review would have been done," Ms Calvery added.
"Again, those are the words of the FBI," the senior Treasury Official told the audience referring to his source of information.
"Your financial institutions are eyes and ears in the fight against terrorists and other bad guys. We depend on you, and I'm committed to working with you to maximise our ability to be effective partners and colleagues," she said.
The Central Intelligence Agency, which carried the secret operation in association with the military against Osama Bin Laden and took charge of the "treasure trove" of information recovered from there, was not immediately available for comment.