Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

MIIS Student and Co-Authors Accurately Described Bin Laden’s Compound Two Years Ago

Erika Mariano (MANPTS '13)

Erika Mariano (MANPTS ’13) at the Samson Student Center.

May 10, 2011

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 hiding in a 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, a Carmel Valley native, was featured on the front page of the Monterey Herald on May 6, a story that was reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News and other publications. After majoring in political science and environmental studies as an undergraduate at UCLA, she was admitted to the growing Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies Program at MIIS, where she will be studying Arabic this summer in the Institute’s Summer Intensive Language Program. Wherever Erika’s professional path may take her in the future, she has already proven herself to be a resourceful and astute analyst!


Good job Erika!

Interesting application of the distance-decay theory.

We need to create a pathway of information from MIIS students' research and ideas to decision makers!

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