'Retired' Osama bin Laden viewed death as a release from years of ill health, book claims
OSAMA bin Laden accepted that he may be betrayed by someone close to him and viewed death as a release from years of declining health, according to a new account of his life in Pakistan.
The research by Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, a retired Pakistani army officer, claims al-Qaeda forced bin Laden to "retire" from his position as "amir" – or chief – of the group and to live out his days in isolation from the movement he founded.
It paints a picture of the world's most wanted man living a secluded life in the town of Abbottabad, surrounded by squabbling wives as he gradually succumbed to dementia and failing health.
Brigadier Qadir, intrigued by conflicting accounts of the raid to kill bin Laden in May last year, has embarked on a personal quest to uncover the truth spending more than $5,000 (£3,200) of his own money.
He used his military connections to gain rare entry to the villa where the al-Qaeda leader died and to access transcripts of the interrogation of his youngest wife, currently in Pakistani custody.
Those military connections and his portrait of a terror mastermind ageing into irrelevance have led critics to suggest that his theory is all too convenient for a country deeply embarrassed by bin Laden's presence.
But Brigadier Qadir said he was convinced Pakistan's security forces were closing in on the world's most wanted man and that he was eventually given up by Khairiah Saber, his third wife who arrived to live in the Abbottabad home early in 2011.
He said the existing household of two wives and assorted children and grandchildren was thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a third, older wife.
According to the testimony of his youngest wife Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sadah, Khairiah said soon after her arrival: "I have one more duty to perform for my husband."
While other family members became suspicious it meant betrayal, bin Laden appeared to accept his fate.
"If this is what she's going to do then so be it. It's a wife's duty to relieve her husband," he reportedly said, while staring blankly into space and apparently referring to the fact that he was in poor health.
"He tried to persuade the other wives to go and take the children with them," said Brig Qadir at his home in Rawalpindi on Thursday. "They refused and said they would not leave without him."
The research, which also includes interviews with Inter-Service Intelligence agency spies and an al-Qaeda member, provides the most extensive account yet of bin Laden's life "hiding in plain sight".
Some 27 people lived in the crowded, high-walled compound: Bin Laden his three wives, five children and four grandchildren, along with the families of his courier and the courier's brother.
Only an odd-job man was the only person allowed to enter.
They arrived after al-Qaeda commanders had apparently ousted bin Laden from his leadership role in 2003, amid fears that his powers were on the wane and that he was suffering from senile dementia.
The house was demolished last month to prevent it becoming a shrine to extremists.