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Bin Laden widows charged as new probe describes discord in his home

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities said Thursday they had filed charges against Osama bin Laden's three widows as an investigation revealed fresh details of the dead al-Qaida leader's family life in Pakistan — including suspicions by two of the women that the oldest wife would betray him.

The three widows — who have been in Pakistani custody since U.S. forces found and killed bin Laden last May in the northern town of Abbottabad — had been expected to be freed until Pakistan's interior minister said they would be charged with crimes related to entering the country illegally.

The charges came as Shaukat Qadir, a retired brigadier who maintains ties to top levels of the Pakistani army, claims to have pieced together the most comprehensive account yet of bin Laden's life after he fled Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains in late 2001.

Qadir thinks bin Laden likely had undergone a kidney transplant, was living in effective retirement in Abbottabad and may have gone senile. The tranquility of his large household was shattered when it was joined early last year by the oldest of his remaining wives, Qadir said in an interview.

There were 27 people packed into the house in Abbottabad when U.S. Navy SEALs arrived on the night of May 2, 2011. But until a few months before that, when bin Laden's oldest surviving wife, Khairiah Sabar, joined them, they had all got on well, Qadir found.

The bin Laden wives have never been proven to be involved with al-Qaida. Last year, Pakistan's official commission probing bin Laden's presence in the country recommended that the wives and children be sent home.

The reason for the charges against them now — for the relatively minor issue of not possessing Pakistani visas — wasn't immediately clear.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, said they would now effectively be placed under house arrest at the undisclosed house in Islamabad where they've been staying.

Bin Laden widows charged as new probe describes discord in his home 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 10:07pm]
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