Apr 02, 2012

Widow tells how bin Laden lived on the run

Widow tells how bin Laden lived on the run

By the CNN Wire Staff

updated 8:36 PM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012

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Bin Laden fathered children on the run


  • Osama bin Laden's family "scattered" after the 9/11 attacks, widow tells police
  • The al Qaeda leader lived undetected in Pakistan for many years
  • He was killed last May in a raid
  • Widow says Pakistani families helped arrange her travel and housing

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden spent years on the run in Pakistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, moving from one safe house to another and fathering four children, at least one of whom was born in a government hospital, his youngest widow has told Pakistani investigators.

A deposition taken from the widow, identified by police as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, gives the clearest picture yet of bin Laden's life while international forces hunted him.

"While we may never be able to corroborate every detail, generally speaking, bin Laden's wife's account seems plausible, and it confirms some previously held theories on where the al-Qaeda leader was hiding over the years," a U.S. official said about the widow's account.

The world's most wanted man remained free until U.S. Navy SEALs killed him during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad in May 2011.

Fateh and two other widows of bin Laden's -- identified by U.S. officials as Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar -- have been in Pakistani custody since the raid. Pakistani authorities have started legal proceedings against the widows, alleging forgery and illegal entrance into Pakistan.

A source familiar with the widows' case told CNN the three women will be charged Monday with living illegally in Pakistan. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The source said the Yemeni government has expressed readiness to let Fateh return home. Saudi Arabia, where the other two women are from, has been more resistant.

In the January 19 police report, first published by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn and obtained Friday by CNN, Fateh said she had always wanted to marry a mujahed, or holy warrior. When word of plans for her arranged marriage to bin Laden came in 2000, she flew to Pakistan, crossed the Afghanistan border at Quetta and went to Kandahar.

She said she did not recall exactly when, but she was married before the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

She lived with bin Laden and his two other wives until the attacks. The family "scattered" after that, she told police.

She said she returned to the southern port city of Karachi with her eldest daughter, Safia, and stayed in a flat for eight or nine months. She said that "all the things were arranged by some Pakistani family and Saad," bin Laden's eldest son.

They moved six or seven times in Karachi before she reunited with bin Laden in the border city of Peshawar. They moved to the Swat Valley, living in two houses over an eight- or nine-month period.

Next, they shifted to Haripur, also in northern Pakistan. Fateh's daughter Aasia was born there in 2003 and son Ibrahim the next year. Fateh said she stayed in a hospital on both occasions.

They settled in Abbottabad in 2005 and stayed there for six years before bin Laden was killed.

Fateh had two more children in Abbottabad -- daughter Zainab was born in 2006 and son Hussain in 2008.

Fateh said two families, whom she called the Ibrahim and Abrar families, stayed with them while they were in Swat, Haripur and Abbottabad, and "everything was arranged by them."

She said some members of those two families were killed in the raid, as was bin Laden's 20-year-old son, Khalid.

She told police she never applied for a visa during her stay in Pakistan.

CNN asked Pakistani officials in Washington, in e-mails and over the phone, whether they had any knowledge of Fateh's movements and got no response.

CNN's Brian Todd, Peter Bergen and Tim Lister contributed to this report.