Brick from Compound Where bin Laden was Killed Enters Museum Collection

A tan and red–colored brick from Osama bin Laden’s fortified compound is displayed on a white surface at the Museum.
A brick from Osama bin Laden’s fortified compound removed by a Fox News Channel war correspondent after the al-Qaeda leader’s death in 2011. (photo by Matt Flynn)

One of the most dramatic manhunts in history culminated some two years ago, with the death of Osama bin Laden, the nation’s most wanted criminal who redefined the threat of global terrorism in the 21st century with his call for a violent jihad uprising against the United States.

Symbolizing the defining moment of his fall is an unassuming object, a brick extricated from the foundation of bin Laden’s fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raided by U.S. Navy SEALs who killed the long-sought-after terrorist.

The compound served as bin Laden’s safe house for at least five years before his detection and killing. President Obama addressed the nation about his death on May 1, 2011. Stationed in Islamabad several years before the daring mission, Fox News Channel war correspondent Dominic DiNatale was on the scene in Abbottabad soon after the U.S. special forces raid on the compound, returning often to the site to chronicle local reaction to this international event. 

The compound remained intact for nearly a year. When DiNatale learned that Pakistani authorities planned to raze the three-story structure in late February 2012, he returned to chisel out several bricks from its foundation. He presented one to Fox News colleagues in New York City as a souvenir of their collective efforts to cover the story of the al-Qaeda network and its mastermind’s mysterious disappearance and eventual capture. In 2013, DiNatale visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s offices in New York City, where he presented the brick and donated it to the museum collection.

For many, the brick represents the fall of bin Laden’s reign of terror; a storied piece of solitary rubble denoting renewal of life in a world in which he no longer remains at large.

By Alex Drakakis, 9/11 Memorial Assistant Curator of Collections

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