A rare look at Osama's widows and children

Apr 11, 2012, 11:18 IST | Agencies

A video surfaces showing the prison home where former al-Qaeda chief's kin are hidden while they await their fate

A young boy stacks teddies in a rocking chair. Another grabs a cricket bat while three women, their faces invisible behind black niqabs, look on. This is a rare glimpse inside the windowless prison of Osama bin Laden's widows, children and grandchildren.

Inside Story: Footage from the video shows one of Osama’s widows reading from the Quran as a toddler looks on. The video also reveals that the the beds are propped up with bricks, and the building appears to be windowless. Pic/Al Arabiya television

The footage obtained by Al Arabiya television shows the tight security surrounding the family of the al-Qaeda leader as they serve 45-day sentences for illegally entering Pakistan. One woman kneels on a prayer mat to read from the Quran, while another of bin Laden’s wives feeds a toddler in what appears to be a basement room.

A bed is propped up on bricks. They have been held in Pakistani custody ever since bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy Seals last May. Their current home is a guest house in the capital Islamabad, surrounded by armed police. Despite spending years with the world’s most wanted man as he planned terrorist attacks, his three wives and two of his eldest daughters were last month convicted only of immigration offences, which observers believe is the first step to sending them home — possibly next week.

The fate of the wives is a major headache for Pakistan. While authorities are keen to be rid of an awkward reminder of how the world’s most wanted man lived in comfort on Pakistani soil — even fathering four children — they fear the widows may carry valuable information about who helped the family evade capture.

They will want assurances that their home countries will keep the family from public view. Mohammed Amir Khalil, the family’s lawyer, said talks were under way to see them repatriated. “Physically they are quite well and are being treated properly,” he said. “Psychologically, of course, detention is having an effect and it is important they are allowed home soon.”

He said he was confident that their deportation would be arranged by the time their sentence was due to end on April 18. “The documents are almost ready for the Yemeni wife. For the Saudi wives there are still some things to be arranged. Saudi Arabia was initially unwilling to take them back but there is some hope,” he said.

Tales have circulated that the three wives have squabbled during their incarceration and during their years spent hiding in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. The eldest of the wives, Khairiah Sabar was suspected of being an informer by the other two when she arrived in Abbottabad from Iran.

The number of days that Osama’s wives and children have to spend under house arrest after which they would be deported to their homelands respectively

Deportation papers of Osama’s family completed
The travel documents of Osama bin Laden’s family members have been completed by the interior and foreign affairs ministry — his Yemeni wife and five children will be deported back after serving a seven-day prison sentence. Al-Qaeda’s slain chief’s family lawyer Muhammad Atif said that the travel documents for his Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmad Abdul Fatheh, and five children have been completed by the ministries and arrangements for the Saudi family members — comprising two widows and children — is in its final phase with authorities maintaining constant contact with the Saudi embassy in Islamabad and Riyadh to get their passports and tickets confirmed. 

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