News Middle East

Monday 23 April 2018

Al-Qa'ida leader's three wives barred from leaving house

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Osama bin Laden may have lived in his Pakistan hideaway for as long as five years, according to his youngest wife who was captured in the US special forces raid.

It has emerged that 29-year-old Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, who was shot in the leg as she rushed at intruders, told interrogators that he lived there with three wives, who were all under strict orders not to venture out of the fortified house.

In all, 13 children were recovered from the compound in Abbottabad after US Navy Seals shot Bin Laden dead. Eight are believed to be the sons and daughters of the al-Qa'ida leader, according to Pakistani military sources.

The details gradually emerging from officials in Islamabad paint an intriguing picture of an extended family cooped up together for years as they evaded capture only 30 miles from the Pakistani capital, and less than a mile from an officer training academy.

The apparently unauthorised raid has caused deep embarrassment among Pakistan's supposedly powerful military. Senior military commanders said they were ordering a reduction in numbers of US personnel to the "minimum essential", taking already turbulent relations between the countries to a new low.

The officers admitted "shortcomings" in their attempts to gather intelligence on Bin Laden but insisted they were capable of defending key assets. Islamabad's top brass are under intense pressure to explain how they were unable to track down the al-Qa'ida leader.

They also face questions from the public about how the country's military failed to spot unknown aircraft attacking a civilian target.

Yesterday General Ashfaq Kayani, the army's chief of staff, called in senior officers and the heads of intelligence agencies to discuss the fall-out.

In a statement, General Kayani said any similar action violating the sovereignty of Pakistan would prompt a review of co-operation with the US.

"As regards the possibility of similar hostile action against our strategic assets, the forum reaffirmed that, unlike an undefended civilian compound, our strategic assets are well protected and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place," he said. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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