Osama's favourite wife reveals his secret life in Pakistan
In one of the most detailed accounts of Osama bin Laden's life on the run, his youngest wife has told Pakistani investigators that the Al-Qaeda leader lived in five safe houses as he travelled across Pakistan with his family for nine years following the 9/11 attacks.world Updated: Mar 31, 2012 02:29 IST
In one of the most detailed accounts of Osama bin Laden's life after the September 11 attacks, his youngest wife has told Pakistani investigators that the al-Qaeda leader lived in five safe houses as he travelled across Pakistan with his family for nine years following the 9/11 attacks and fathered four children when he was on the run.
The detailed account of bin Laden's life on the run has been given by his 30-year-old wife Amal Ahmad Abdul Fateh, and is contained in a police report dated January 19.
The report contains the testimony given by Osama's young widow during interrogation by a joint investigation team (JIT) comprising civilian and military officials and was first reported by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.
Amal Abdulfattah's account provides rare details of the Al-Qaeda leader's life from when he fled Afghanistan in late 2001 until his death last May during a US Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, in Pakistan.
Bin Laden was 54 years old when he was killed in May 2011 by US Navy SEAL commandos in Pakistan. According to the report, Fateh said she agreed to marry bin Laden in 2000 because "she had a desire of marrying a mujahid."
"The September 11 attacks caused the Bin Laden family to scatter,"the New York Times reported. Fateh returned to Karachi with her newborn daughter Safia and stayed there for about nine months during which she shifted between seven houses arranged by "some Pakistani family" and bin Laden's elder son, Saad.
In July 2000, she came to Karachi and months later crossed into Afghanistan to join her husband and his two other wives at his base on a farm outside Kandahar.
She then left Karachi in the second half of 2002 for Peshawar, where she was reunited with her husband. At that time, the American pursuit of bin Laden was running high since Qaeda operatives had attacked an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya and nightclubs in Indonesia.
The search was firmly focused on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area. Fateh told investigators that Bin Laden took his family deep into rural mountain areas of northwest Pakistan and not into the tribal belt where much of the Western attention was focused.
They first stayed in the Shangla district in Swat, about 80 miles northwest of Islamabad, living in two different houses for eight to nine months.
In 2003 they moved to Haripur, a small town closer to Islamabad, where they stayed in a rented house for two years. It was in Haripur that Fateh gave birth to a girl, Aasia, in 2003 and a boy, Ibrahim, in 2004 — both of whom were delivered in a local government hospital.
The police report states that Fateh "stayed in hospital for a very short time of about 2-3 hours" on each occasion while a separate document states that she gave fake identity papers to hospital staff, the New York Times report said.
Finally in mid-2005 bin Laden and his family moved to Abbottabad, where she gave birth to two more children Zainab in 2006 and Hussain in 2008.
Fateh told investigators that the houses in Swat, Haripur and Abbottabad were organised by their Pashtun hosts, identified as two brothers named Ibrahim and Abrar, whose families stayed with them throughout.
Ibrahim is believed to refer to Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, a Pakistani-born Pashtun who grew up in Kuwait and who was known for a time to American intelligence as 'the courier', because he carried the Qaeda leader's messages.
During the raid by the Navy SEAL commandos, Fateh, who was in the same room as the Qaeda leader, was shot in the leg. She survived but four others were killed in the raid: the courier, his wife Bushra, his brother Abrar, and bin Laden's 20-year-old son, Khalil.
Pakistani newspaper Dawn says that Amal’s brother Zakaria Al Sadah is in Pakistan, and is trying to secure the release of his sister and her children. "My sister wants to go back. She is innocent and has not committed any crime. She should be freed immediately," he said.
But his request has not been accepted so far.
Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik has said they will be tried and will not be allowed to leave the country before the court’s ruling.
Bin Laden's three widows are currently under house arrest in Islamabad and they along with two of his children face prosecution. A cousin of Fateh's in Yemen has claimed that she was being held in a basement.
After Osama bin Laden disappeared into the snow-clad Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, with the US special forces only hours behind him, the trail went cold for the next nine years, until August 2010. Bin Laden was found living in a million-dollar palatial home 35 miles outside Islamabad in a sprawling upscale neighbourhood called Abbottabad, home to retired Pakistani military officials.
A small team of US Navy Seals killed him, one of his sons, two other men and a woman in an operation lasting under 40 minutes on May 2, 2011. They carried back bin Laden's body, which was later buried at sea.
SEALs: Commandos who took out Osama
Osama bin Laden's death in a ripped-from-a-spy-thriller helicopter raid and firefight was carried out by a unit called Navy SEAL Team Six. Made up of only a few hundred forces based in Virginia, the elite SEAL unit officially known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or "DEVGRU," is part of a special operations brotherhood that calls itself "the quiet professionals."
The roots of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden date back five years ago, when intelligence agencies at last managed to identify bin Laden's personal courier in a long-awaited breakthrough.
(With PTI inputs)
In Picture : House of Osama | Osama dead and alive | Osama hideout demolished
HT Poll: Is it believable that Osama bin Laden lived 9 years in Pakistan without the country’s leaders knowing?
First Published: Mar 30, 2012 10:48 IST