UPDATE: This from CNN,Â Bin Laden near Chitral, down the pass from Darkot and across alpine meadow?Â
Â According to a U.S. military intelligence official familiar with the hunt, bin Laden is likely hiding in an area called Chitral, in the far north of Pakistan, bounded by Afghanistan to the west and China to the north.
Contrary to popular belief, the official said, bin Laden most likely isnâ€™t living in a cave but in a house, possibly with a family and no more than two bodyguards.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the hunt, said the thinking that bin Laden is in Chitral is based in part on trees that are peculiar to that region that can be seen in a 2003 video of bin Laden walking in a mountainous region.
In addition, the official said, the conclusion that bin Laden is in Chitral is based on the length of time it takes for bin Ladenâ€™s audiotapes to make their way to news outlets like Al-Jazeera when he comments on important events, such as the death of al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It took three weeks for bin Ladenâ€™s reaction to appear on the worldâ€™s television screens.
Here’sÂ two views from Google earth, one a plot from Darkot to Chitral, one a close up. Note the proximity to Darkot, site of the recent reports, the easy pass there, as well as the easy access to Peshawar, and the airstrip in Chitral.
Another factor worth noting, Chitral is dominantly Pashtun/Sunni, while north of the mountains in Afghanistan it’s mostly Shia/Hazara.