A Michigan gem merchant who claims he tipped the FBI to the location of Osama bin Laden’s secret compound in Pakistan eight years before his killing has hired a high-powered Chicago law firm to help him seek the $25 million reward offered for the terrorist’s capture.
Tom Lee, 63, of Grand Rapids, Mich., “accurately reported” to an FBI special agent in 2003 that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to a letter sent to the FBI by an attorney for the Loevy & Loevy firm.
Lee’s account, however, differs from numerous published reports that the bin Laden compound wasn’t even completed until 2005. U.S. officials were quoted as saying it was believed bin Laden didn’t move to the complex until early 2006.
Lee, a U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent, said he learned of the complex’s location from a Pakistani intelligence agent who told him he had personally escorted bin Laden and his family from Peshawar to Abbottabad.
Lee claimed he relayed the information to a U.S. customs agent who had previously worked with Lee on investigations into corruption in the international gem trade.
Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a raid by U.S. special forces on the heavily fortified compound in Abbottabad. U.S officials said later that year that the $25 million offered by the State Department for the “capture or conviction” of bin Laden would not be paid because the compound was located by tracking a key bin Laden courier through electronic intelligence.