Osama bin Laden's widows to be deported


Monday 02 April 2012 15:32

Osama bin Laden's three widows and two of his daughters have been convicted of illegally living in Pakistan by one of the country's courts and jailed for 45 days.

They have been in detention since last May when US commandos killed bin Laden at the house in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad where he was living with his family.

Family lawyer Mohammed Amir Khalil said the sentence included time already served since they were formally arrested on March 3, so they will serve another two weeks in prison and then will be deported with their children.

The case treads on a number of sensitive issues for Pakistan. The army faced rare domestic criticism following the US raid that killed the al Qaida chief because they were powerless to stop it. Critics also said bin Laden's presence in the country for so long either pointed to the military's incompetence or complicity.

Two of the widows are Saudi and one is Yemeni. Mr Khalil said Yemen has consented to the return, but he is still in discussions with Saudi officials. Saudi Arabia stripped binLaden of his citizenship in 1994 because of his verbal attacks against the Saudi royal family.

Islamabad was outraged by the US raid that killed bin Laden because it was not told about it beforehand. Pakistani officials have said they had no idea the al Qaida leader was in Abbottabad, something many in Washington found hard to believe because his compound was located close to Pakistan's equivalent of Sandhurst.

The US has not found any evidence indicating senior Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden's whereabouts.

But details uncovered recently from the interrogation of his 30-year-old Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, raised fresh questions about how bin Laden was able to remain undetected for so long in Pakistan after the September 11 attacks, despite being the subject of a massive international manhunt.

After leaving Afghanistan, bin Laden lived in five safe houses over nine years while on the run in Pakistan and fathered four children - two of them born in government hospitals.

Al-Sada's account says she flew to Pakistan in 2000 and travelled to Afghanistan where she married bin Laden before the September 11 attacks.

After that, the family "scattered" and she travelled to Karachi in Pakistan. She later met bin Laden in Peshawar and then moved to the Swat Valley, where they lived in two houses. They moved one more time before settling in Abbottabad in 2005.

The compound in Abbottabad was a crowded place, with 28 residents - including the 54-year-old bin Laden, his three wives, eight of his children and five of his grandchildren.

The bin Laden children ranged in age from his son Khaled, who was in his 20s and was killed in the raid, to a three-year-old born during their time in Abbottabad.

There was tension between bin Laden's youngest wife, al-Sada, and his oldest, Khairiah Saber, who arrived in Abbottabad in early 2011 after being held in Iran for about a decade.

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