Student Co-Authored a Study Accurately Describing Bin Laden’s Compound Two Years Ago
Erika Mariano (MANPTS ’13) is working on a master’s degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies with the long-term goal of becoming an intelligence analyst—a goal she seems well on her way to achieving, thanks in part to the remarkable prescience of a study she co-authored in 2009.
Using bio-geographical theories and satellite imagery, Erika, four fellow UCLA students, and geology professors Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew came to the conclusion that Osama bin Laden was most likely not hiding in caves along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but rather living in a high-walled compound in an urban area in central Pakistan. Their report, “Finding Osama bin Laden,” was published by the MIT International Review in February 2009 and initially greeted with skepticism. Although the group identified a different city about 130 miles from Abbottabad as the most likely location for the compound, in almost every other respect, their description of the likely circumstances in which Bin Laden was living proved almost eerily accurate.
Erika will be studying Arabic this summer in the Institute’s Summer Intensive Language Program. Wherever her professional path may take her in the future, she has already proven herself to be a resourceful and astute analyst!