Abbottabad: Shakeel Ahmad Yusufzai cuts a defiant figure in the genteel Pakistani town of Abbottabad. He is the man who demolished Osama bin Laden’s house and despite Taliban death threats, says he is proud of what he did.
Yusufzai paid the government around 4,00,000 rupees ($4,500) for the contract to demolish the compound where the Al-Qaeda chief hid for around six years and to salvage building materials from it. The high-walled three-storey house was flattened in February and now Yusufzai gives away bricks to curious souvenir-hunters from all over Pakistan.
A year after the US special forces raid which found the world’s most wanted man living on the doorstep of the country’s elite military academy, Pakistan is keen to turn the page on one of the most humiliating episodes in its history.
The 47-year-old Yusufzai told AFP the Pakistani Taliban had sent him threatening letters, but he was pleased to have erased some of the physical traces of his country’s shame. “I am not scared at all but sometimes I think I have put my family in danger,” said Yusufzai, who has a seven-year-old daughter.
“My wife feels scared and whenever I come home late she thinks that either I have been killed or kidnapped. “But I believe that whatever I did was in the national interest. We conveyed a message to the world by demolishing this compound that we are against terrorism, which harmed our province and the country.”
Yusufzai hoped to make a profit on material recovered from the site but said he lost money despite taking away 12 tonnes of scrap metal from the buildings.