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Bin Laden's wives face illegal entry charge

Anita Joshua
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A guesthouse is seen inside Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.— PHOTO: AP
A guesthouse is seen inside Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.— PHOTO: AP

Pakistan has charged al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's three wives with illegal entry into the country. At the same time, the federal government has bought a five-bedroom house in Islamabad for his children, disclosed Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Thursday in an interaction with the media.

While the wives are in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency, Mr. Malik said the children could be sent back to their native countries if their mothers so desired. While one wife — the youngest is from Yemen — another is from Saudi Arabia. The nationality of the third is unclear.

The women and children were rounded up from OBL's house after the U.S. raid on the compound in Abbottabad in the early hours of May 2. According to disclosures made to a couple of Western journalists working for American media houses by retired Army officer Shaukat Qadir, OBL spent the last few months of his life in a household torn among suspicious wives.

Brig. Qadir has been researching the raid and claims to have been given access to not only the otherwise out-of-bound premises but also transcripts of the interrogation of OBL's wives. According to Brig. Qadir, trouble began in the family when his oldest wife, Saudi-born Khairiah Saber, turned up in Abbottabad in March 2011 and moved into the bedroom on the floor below the room used by OBL and his youngest and favourite wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada.

Others in the family were convinced that Khairiah Saber intended to betray him and warned OBL but he, as per Brig. Qadir's account, was resigned to his destiny. However, the researcher has not been able to establish any link between her and the U.S. raid.

At the time of the raid, there were 28 people on the premises including eight of OBL's children — ranging from a 25-year-old to a three-year-old who was born in Abbottabad — and five grandchildren. While his Yemeni wife had accompanied him when he escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan, Khairiah Saber was among those members of his family who had sought to flee westwards but were nabbed in Iran after the U.S. launched operations in 2001. They were released by Iran in 2010 when Tehran swapped them for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped from Peshawar.


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