UCLA Students Found Bin Laden Long Before The CIA

Perhaps this is a reason that more people should listen to college students: two years ago, a class of UCLA ecosystem geography students predicted the location where Osama bin Laden was hiding with surprising accuracy.  According to a probilistic model created by Professors Thomas Gillespie, John Agnew and their class of undergraduates, there was an 88.9% chance that bin Laden was hiding in a city, like Abbottabad, which was less than 300 km from his last known location in Tora Bora.

To be fair, of 26 “city islands” where bin Laden could have been hiding out, the class identified the nearby city of Parachinar as the most likely spot.  So U.S. intelligence officials might not have been able to use their findings.  But the really interesting part of this story is that locating bin Laden was an exercise in a class which was not at all political.  Instead, Gillespie and Agnew were trying to teach their students a geographical theory called “island biogeography.”

“The theory was basically that if you’re going to try and survive, you’re going to a region with a low extinction rate: a large town,” Gillespie says. “We hypothesized he wouldn’t be in a small town where people could report on him.  It’s not my thing to do this type of [terrorism] stuff,” he added. “But the same theories we use to study endangered birds can be used to do this.”

The students’ work was published in MIT International Review, a small journal, but Gillespie says that he was surprised when the results garnered media attention back in 2009.  Now, the reporters who found the study relevant may feel vindicated (especially Sean Hannity, who Gillespie declined for an interview).

If there was ever an advertisement for interdisciplinary work, this is it.  But neither Gillespie nor the intelligence community seem especially eager to forge a working relationship.  “Right now, I’m working on the dry forests of Hawaii where 45% of the trees are on the endangered species list,” Gillespie explained.  “I’m far more interested in getting trees off the endangered species list.”


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A6 years ago

Some folk are so gullible and believe anything. OBL has been dead for years when the mountains were reduced to rubble with some of the heaviest bombs US possessed. No one saw or heard of him but the authorities would not say anything. They had to wait for the right time and use him as a get out card.

That is exactly what has been done and now killings of thousands of civilians and hundreds of US servicemen and women is justified.

How bizarre that people are so easily fooled in thinking what their rulers want them to think. BL was just a big mouth and wanted to take credit for work of Isreali Mosad and CIA. They wanted to create the situation when the new world order can commence.

Fancy letting dozens of Mosad leave a couple of days after 9/11? If they stayed longer then the questions will have to be answered, so let's put them on plane to TelAviv and start bombing as planned years ahead.

Laden was a pawn in a larger game than he thought and he together with hundreds of thousands paid the price. CIA and MOSAD won everyone else lost including US tax payers.

Wakeup to a reality, you are told what to THINK....

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti6 years ago

Interesting. The problem is not where OBL was located. Why wasn't he captured and put on trial? Not only that, he only had a partial part to play in 911, which was an inside job.

Jd M.
Jd M.6 years ago

Here's a case for not only interdisciplinary research but pay attention to geography! Holistic disciplines have a lot to say. I bet I'd have an easier time hiding in a big city than a small town too.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

Was it a coincedence that the raid was planned for the day after the Royal Wedding? Or was America sick of all the press attention that the UK was getting?

Bibi Sarangabataanan


I do not think the CIA controls outcomes as completely as your post suggests, even though they try.

Blaise G.
Blaise G6 years ago

I do not think for a minute that U.S. "Intelligence?" wasn't aware of the exact location of Bin Laden. I'm sure that the "Powers That Be" were "sitting" on him and waiting to use him as a Jack of Spades political card for sometime in the future.

We really don't give the so-called "Intelligence? Community" the "credit?" they "deserve?" as they are purposefully playing their cards in a way that (through the Corporate Main-Stream Media) manipulates U.S. and World Public Opinion in a way that allows the "Intelligence? Community" to maintain their Low Profile.

Bin Laden was a Terrorist of the first order, but please keep in mind that the C.I.A. and almost all other "Intelligence? Agencies" around the world area also Terrorist Organizations. This is a FACT. That is not to say that the initially innocent college recruits that the C.I.A. entices into "service" with all their patriotic propaganda and all that rot, aren't aware initially of the deeply embedded Gestapo Style Tactics and their Drug Running and Money Laundering systems to finance these Black programs. But there are more and more ex-C.I.A. operatives who have been and are coming out of their comfortable homes and speaking up and out about what the C.I.A. really is...and as anyone who is awake knows, it is a Top Notch Terrorist Organization run from the top by very Wealthy Criminals.

Sound Mind
Ronald E6 years ago

Close - no cigar.

christopher murray

Actually, in 2008, Christine Amapur was on Real Time with Bill Maher, when she said that Bin Laden wasn't hiding out in some cave, but instead was inside a villa. That was 2008, and this is 2011. Funny that someone from CNN knew where Bin Laden was hiding, and no one in the White House seemed to know.

Bibi Sarangabataanan

You have to dismiss information otherwise you become mental flypaper.

Bernadette P.
berny p6 years ago

makes one think....never dismis an information!