Just recently, Al Jazeera released a leaked government report on the days leading up to Osama bin Laden's surprise bullet party with SEAL Team 6, providing an illuminating look at how the terrorist leader stayed hidden for an entire decade. This 300+-page file reveals that bin Laden's methods of evading capture often amounted to cartoonish buffoonery coupled with blind luck, making him closer to George Bluth than Jason Bourne on the scale of fugitive masterminds. Here are some of his most nefarious tactics ...
#4. He Wore a Silly Hat to Avoid Satellite Detection
The advanced state of satellite and drone technology is enough to turn even the most rational people into Montana Freemen, so imagine what you would do if you were literally the most wanted man in the entire world. How would you avoid the ubiquitous stare of relentless government satellites? For bin Laden, the answer was simple: Just wear a cowboy hat. Bulletproof.
STR / Stringer / AFP / Getty
"I was originally thinking of a fedora, but I didn't want to be a douche."
For 10 years, the most notorious mastermind of our generation simply walked around in salwar kameez, camo pants, and a Stetson, effectively dressed like Yosemite Sam at a paintball ranch.
#3. One of His Wives Pretended to Be a Deaf Mute
During bin Laden's decade-long adventure through Pakistan, he and his wife Amal found the time to have three freaking children before settling down in Abbottabad, where they promptly had two more. That's five births while on the lam from Johnny Law. How did bin Laden manage to avoid leaving a paper trail at the hospital for Jessica Chastain to find?
Stringer / AFP / Getty
"You should call me 'Bin Laying'! Huh, high-five? No? No? Ah, screw you guys."
Well, because bin Laden took his wife to private clinics, where he had her pretend to be a deaf mute to brilliantly avoid any questioning. You may notice this as something Cheech and Chong would try to do after being pulled over by the police. Even so, the bin Ladens did it with a straight face, and nobody ever caught on.
#2. He Kept His Family Busy With Stupid Games
You'd think it'd be tough to stay hidden with your face plastered all over TV, particularly after the daughter of one of bin Laden's bodyguards recognized his face on a news broadcast as "the uncle who lives upstairs." So bin Laden's kids were banned from television and the Internet and weren't allowed to play outside, because there's absolutely nothing suspicious about an entire family behaving like patient zero in an outbreak movie.
CNN / Getty
"We played Risk a few times, but things got ugly pretty fast."
To keep the kids from going stir-crazy and giving away his hiding place, bin Laden invented something way more exciting than the idiot box or the web-o'-tube to keep them occupied, aside from their vigorous religious education, that is. The children were tasked with cultivating their own vegetable plots, which he would then judge for prizes. That's right -- bin Laden held regular gardening contests to keep his family from accidentally blabbing his whereabouts to the CIA (and, presumably, from stumbling upon his massive pornography collection).
Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
"You call those tomatoes? That is truly the worst thing our family has ever done."
#1. We Would Have Had Him a Decade Ago, But He Shaved
After earning the top spot on America's fool-blasting checklist, bin Laden figured that altering his appearance was probably prudent. So he shaved his trademark beard -- easily his most identifiable feature -- and paved the way for one of the most frustrating stories to come out of the report.
See, bin Laden would go out in public kind of often, and he didn't really have any plan beyond standing very still and hoping nobody recognized him. After shaving his beard, his wife's friends simply thought he was just some tall dude who looked a lot like Grant Heslov. This was the case when his limousine was pulled over by police in 2002, one freaking year after the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden's driver had been speeding, but the cop took one look inside a car containing the most infamous man in modern history, didn't see a beard, and let them go with a warning.
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"I just thought he was Winona Ryder."
So basically, for a time, the most elusive man on the planet shaved his face and hid in plain sight because he saw it work in The Fugitive.