ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will deport Osama bin Laden’s three widows and their children to Saudi Arabia next week after they finish a 45-day prison sentence for illegally entering and living in the country, their defence lawyer said Friday.
The family has been in detention since American commandos killed bin Laden in a large house in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad last May, but they were only convicted on April 2. The Americans left the women and children behind in the house after they flew off with bin Laden’s corpse.
The women and children will be deported on April 18, a day after they finish their sentence, said their lawyer Mohammed Amir Khalil.
Two of the women are from Saudi Arabia and one is from Yemen. It was unclear why authorities weren’t sending the Yemeni woman to her home country.
There has been uncertainty about whether Saudi Arabia would accept the women. The country stripped bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994 because of his verbal attacks against the Saudi royal family. Saudi officials have declined to comment in the past.
The women may have information about how bin Laden managed to remain undetected for close to 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., despite being the subject of a massive international manhunt. The youngest, 30-year-old Yemeni wife Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, has told investigators bin Laden lived in five houses while on the run and fathered four children, two of whom were born in Pakistani government hospitals.
Pakistani officials have said they had no idea the al-Qaida chief was in Abbottabad, something many in Washington found hard to believe because his compound was located close to Pakistan’s equivalent of the West Point military academy. The U.S. has not found evidence indicating senior Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts, but said he must have had some form of “support network.”