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Divide in family may have led to Bin Laden's downfall

Pakistani authorities have charged the three wives of Osama bin Laden with illegally entering and living in the country, as an independent investigation into the al Qaeda leader's final days found that his eldest wife was suspected by the other two of betraying him.

world Updated: Mar 12, 2012 00:21 IST

Pakistani authorities have charged the three wives of Osama bin Laden with illegally entering and living in the country, as an independent investigation into the al Qaeda leader's final days found that his eldest wife was suspected by the other two of betraying him.

The three wives have been in custody since they were left behind last May when a US raiding party found and killed Bin Laden in the northern town of Abbottabad.

They had been expected to be freed but it was announced by the interior minister on Thursday that they would be charged with immigration offences.

The news came as an independent investigation by a retired Pakistani brigadier, Shaukat Qadir, claimed that Bin Laden was living in effective retirement in Abbottabad and may even have been senile.

Qadir is known to be close to Pakistan's current army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, who arranged several visits for him to the Abbottabad compound, which has been cordoned off by security forces since the US operation.

The Abbottabad house was suddenly demolished, without explanation, by the Pakistani authorities late last month.

Using transcripts of the interrogation of Bin Laden's wives and interviews with Pakistani intelligence officials, Qadir pieced together the most comprehensive account yet of the al Qaeda leader's life after he fled the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in late 2001. According to Qadir, Bin Laden may have had a kidney transplant back in 2002, which would explain why his known kidney ailment did not require him to undergo dialysis treatment while on the run.

There were 27 people, including bodyguards and members of Bin Laden's extended family living in the house when the al-Qaida leader was killed.

They had all got on well until the arrival of Khairiah Sabar in early 2011, Qadir said.