Bin Laden's Last Days: Caught Between Feuding Wives

Family members warned Osama his oldest wife might betray him.

ByABC News
March 8, 2012, 10:55 AM

March 8, 2012 — -- Osama bin Laden spent his last days trapped inside a cramped compound with two feuding wives, as family members worried the older of the two women would betray the al Qaeda leader to authorities, according to a detailed account compiled by a retired Pakistani army officer.

According to Brigadier Shaukat Qadir's report, based on interviews with the wives and other residents of the compound, suspicions erupted between bin Laden's wives when the eldest one, Khairiah Sabar, suddenly turned up in Pakistan. She had lived in Iran after fleeing Afghanistan in 2001.

Sabar, a woman believed to be about seven years bin Laden's senior, appeared at the Abbottabad house in February or March 2011, just months before it was raided by U.S. Navy SEALs, and then moved into a room on the second floor, right below the room bin Laden shared with his youngest and favorite wife, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah. The newcomer was soon at odds with Abdul Fattah and other members of the household.

According to Brigadier Qadir, who was given access to transcripts of Abdul Fatah's interrogation by Pakistan's intelligence agency, Khalid bin Laden, the son of the al Qaeda leader and a third wife living in the compound, asked Sabar why she had come to Abbottabad after so many years.

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

Sabar, who had previously been under house arrest in Iran before being released in 2010, was also described in the account as a feisty woman who even frightened the Pakistani intelligence officials who interrogated her.

"She is so aggressive that she borders on being intimidating," one official told Qadir.

Pakistani tribal leaders reportedly told Qadir that bin Laden had kept his youngest wife, Abdul Fatah, close in the years since the 9/11 attacks and that she had helped set up his protection.

The 29-year-old remained at bin Laden's side even as U.S. Navy SEALs stormed the Abbottabad compound, and she allegedly rushed, unarmed, at the SEALs in an attempt to protect her husband, U.S. officials told ABC News in the days following bin Laden's death. Khalid bin Laden died in the raid along with his father.

The three-story compound, which bin Laden shared with his three wives, eight of his children and five of his grandchildren, was demolished last month after Pakistani intelligence analysts expressed concerns that the building could becoming a shrine for al Qaeda supporters.

The Pakistani Interior Minister announced Thursday that all three wives were being charged with illegal entry, but did not specify when a trial would begin or punishment they would be likely to receive. Bin Laden married at least four wives in all, but divorced his first wife prior to 9/11.

The Pakistani "Abbottabad Commission," which investigated how bin Laden was able to live undetected in the compound undetected from 2005 to 2011, is currently finalizing its report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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