A CIA forensic team entered into Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbotabad on Friday and spent several hours looking for evidence that had been left behind during the May 2 raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.
"They did not leave empty-handed," one U.S. official told NBC News.
The unpublicized search took place about the same time that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Islamabad meeting with Pakistani officials to express mounting concerns about that country's lack of cooperation on counter-terrorism.
Access to the bin Laden compound had been negotiated by CIA Deputy Director Michael M. Morell during a trip to Pakistan last week. The agreement was cited by one Pakistani official as a sign that, at senior levels, both sides are working hard to move past their differences.
The CIA team arrived by helicopter about noon in Pakistan and was accompanied by Pakistani ISI officers as they looked for any remaining evidence at the compound, the officials said. In particular, CIA officials were looking for vaults or other items that might be hidden behind walls or inside floors, as well as any possible tunnels that could allow visitors to leave and enter undetected. The search ended about 6 p.m. and the helicopter flew the CIA team from the compound.
U.S. officials are not overly optimistic that the search will produce major pieces of evidence. Since the May 2 raid, the compound has been under the control of the Pakistani military and the assumption is local authorities would have already searched through and removed any important items that the Navy SEALs had left behind. "The odds are that a lot of good stuff might be left are pretty low," said a U.S. official.