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However, within seconds of the arrival of the US helicopters overhead in Abbottabad on Monday, their presence was being advertised on Twitter."Helicopter hovering above Abbotttabad at 1am (is a rare event)," tweeted Sohaib Athar, an IT engineer who lives about 3km (two miles) from the compound.Despite the presence on the ground and observation from the sky, the CIA was still unable to positively identify Bin Laden as the man often spotted often walking up and down outside the house. He and his associates went to extraordinary efforts to remain undetected.

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What follows has been pieced together from official US statements and off-the-record interviews, other news sources and BBC interviews with those living near the compound in Abbottabad, the quiet, leafy garrison town 35 miles north of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Just a handful of US military and senior officials around President Obama knew of the planned raid.

Eleven minutes later Athar reported: "A huge window-shaking bang here in Abbottabad.

I hope it's not the start of something nasty." On the other side of the world President Obama and his closest advisers had gathered in the White House situation room to monitor progress of the assault.

While satellites watched from the sky a CIA safe house was set up nearby.

From the safe house, agents were able to observe the comings and goings from the compound in order to establish a "pattern of life" at the building.It was mostly destroyed in an explosion set by the US forces as they departed.Publicly, the US authorities have given few details about the raid and some of these have changed since the news of Bin Laden's death was officially announced.In a daring raid 120 miles (192km) inside Pakistan, a team of US special forces flew from Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hiding place in the dead of night.They swooped down on the compound in stealth helicopters, swept through the buildings within the high walled enclosure and shot dead a total of five people including Bin Laden.Some details of how they tried to obtain key information about the building have emerged.