Osama Bin Laden: Keeping Up with the Kardashians?

PHOTO:  The wife of Osama Bin Laden injured in Sundays raid was his youngest, 29-year old Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah.
Share
Copy

Osama bin Laden may have not endured years of huddling in caves after 9/11, as many had believed, but the revelation by his wife that he spent the decade before his death hiding in safe houses around Pakistan doesn't mean he was living a life free of stress.

Phil Mudd, who helped lead the CIA's search for bin Laden, says the life described by the terror leader's youngest wife, particularly the six years of close confinement in an Abbottabad compound stuffed with spouses and offspring, sounds uncomfortably familiar.

"I can only begin to imagine that that looked like American reality TV," said Mudd, "that he was living in some version of the Kardashians in Abbottabad."

Youngest wife Amal Ahmad Abdul Fattah, the Al Qaeda chief's clear favorite, told Pakistani police in a report obtained by ABC News that except for the eight or nine months just after 9/11 when the family "scattered" and she does not account for bin Laden's whereabouts, the most wanted man in the world skipped from safe house to safe house in Peshawar, Swat and Haripur, Pakistan before settling in Abbottabad for the last six years of his life.

In his time on the run, bin Laden managed to father four children by Amal, a Yemeni citizen -- at least two of whom were born in government hospitals.

Amal, 30, was shot in the leg trying to defend bin Laden during the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed him last May.

"That kind of self sacrifice was something often discussed by bin Laden and other members of his family," said Steve Coll, author of "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden."

But another subject discussed inside the Abottabad compound was betrayal. Bin Laden spent his final days trapped indoors with two feuding wives. Bin Laden's oldest wife, Khairiah Sabar, appeared at the Abbottabad house in February or March 2011, just months before bin Laden's death, after a long separation, according to a detailed account compiled by a retired Pakistani army officer.

Khairiah, seven years bin Laden's senior, moved into a room on the second floor, right below the room bin Laden shared with Amal, a Yemeni many years his junior. The newcomer was soon at odds with Amal and other members of the household.

Khalid bin Laden, the son of the al Qaeda leader and a third wife also living in the compound, asked Khairiah why she had come to Abbottabad after so many years.

"I have one final duty to perform for my husband," Khairiah reportedly told Khalid; the son rushed to tell his father that she was going to betray him.

Mudd said the living situation guaranteed strife. "If you look at the size of the compound, it's not huge," he said. "You've got wives who range from fairly young, right now his Yemeni wife is still only 30 years old, to wives who range much older. You have sons involved in moving the family around, you have newborn kids coming in during the time he was on the run. You certainly can't go out to go to the market place or go to a movie. It's hard to imagine over the course of years that that didn't become a very difficult environment."

Yet Bin Laden remained undetected during his years in Pakistan, as both U.S. and Pakistan officials said they did not know where he was, or speculated that he was living high in the mountains, perhaps in a cave, on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

Follow ABCNewsBlotter on Facebook

Follow BrianRoss on Twitter

Instead, bin Laden was living much closer to civilization. At one point, according to Amal, U.S. military helicopters on a mercy mission following a 2005 earthquake flew directly over one of bin Laden's urban hideouts, completely unaware.

Said Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism advisor and current ABC News consultant, "The United States was doing what came easy to it, looking in rural areas while he was in nice homes in big cities."

Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...