One of the 4x4s drove up close to the veranda, and from its back seat emerged a tall and frail-looking man. He wore flowing robes and a white turban.
The waiting men couldn’t believe their eyes. Standing before them was none other than Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world.
“We were dumb-struck,” says the elder. “He was the last person we’d expected to turn up at our doorstep.”
He stood beside the vehicle for a while, shaking hands. The elder says he kissed Bin Laden’s hand and pressed it against his eyes in a gesture of reverence…
This happened exactly one year before Bin Laden was killed in a secret operation of the US Navy Seals in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, located some 300km (186 miles) to the north-east of this remote tribal compound.