Bin Laden widow recounts burgeoning brood, five abodes while on run
Osama bin Laden bounced from Peshawar to the Swat Valley to Abbottabad while on the run after the 9/11 attacks, living in five safe houses and fathering four children before being killed last year, his youngest widow has reportedly told Pakistani investigators.
The assertions of Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah Sada, first reported by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn and followed by other sources that later obtained the interrogation report, sheds new light on how Bin Laden lived as a fugitive in Pakistan after fleeing American troops in Afghanistan in 2001. It also raises new questions about how he went unnoticed over the years in Pakistani cities.
Though U.S. officials have said there are no signs that senior Pakistani officials were aware of where Bin Laden was hiding, suspicions have dogged Islamabad since Bin Laden was found not in a cave, but in Abbottabad, a Pakistani garrison town teeming with soldiers.
Sada is currently in Pakistani custody along with two other Bin Laden wives and several children. Her attorney told the Associated Press that the widows will likely be charged Monday for staying illegally in Pakistan.
Perhaps the most striking detail widely shared from the report is that Sada said Bin Laden fathered four children while on the run. Two of the children were said to have been born in Pakistani government hospitals, but the widow reportedly told investigators that each time she stayed only "two or three hours" at the clinics. She may have concealed her identity to avoid being detected at the hospitals: A charge sheet against the women says they gave fake identities to officials, the Associated Press reported.
While on the lam, Dawn reported, Bin Laden stayed with the families of a pair of Pakistanis named Ibrahim and Abrar. Though the newspaper reported that their identities were never discovered because they were killed in the Abbottabad raid in which Bin Baden was slain, the New York Times reported that Ibrahim is believed to refer to Abu Ahmed Kuwaiti, known to U.S. intelligence officials as "the courier," who carried messages for Bin Laden.
Sada reportedly said she married Bin Laden in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, following her "desire to marry a mujahid." After the attacks, she said, the family scattered and she went to Karachi, staying there eight or nine months.
"All the things were arranged by some Pakistani families and Saad, elder son of Osama, was coordinating all the things," Dawn quoted the report as saying.
Sada's testimony did not answer several key questions. For example, she declined to tell investigators if any Pakistani officials were in touch with Bin Laden during his flight, Dawn reported.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Pakistani police officers stand guard on March 17 outside a house in Islamabad where family members of Osama bin Laden are believed to be held. Credit: Anjum Naveed / Associated Press