The Young Wife Who Defended Osama Bin Laden
When SEALs took down al Qaeda leader, one woman fought back.
May 4, 2011 — -- The woman who the White House said charged U.S. Navy SEALs in an apparent desperate last ditch effort to protect Osama bin Laden has been identified as bin Laden's youngest wife, a woman nearly half his age.
The woman, identified by a passport found inside the al Qaeda leader's compound as 29-year-old Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, was in the room when the SEALs took the final, fateful shots at 54-year-old Osama bin Laden and was herself shot in the leg when she rushed, unarmed, at the special operators. She was treated for her wounds and is in custody in Pakistan, officials said.
A senior U.S. official said the U.S. has been denied access to bin Laden's wife because she needs medical attention. The official characterized that as a stalling tactic. Asked about the U.S. request to see bin Laden's wife, a senior Pakistani security official told ABC News, "With what face can they ask that now?"
Fatah, bin Laden's fifth wife and the only one left living with him in the house, had been gifted to the al Qaeda leader from a Yemeni family when she was just a teenager and later had three young children with him. Of his other wives, he had divorced one and three others had moved to Syria.
To former high-ranking CIA analyst and former FBI counterterrorism official Phil Mudd, it's not surprising that she apparently was willing to risk her life for the man the U.S. has been hunting for more than a decade.
"He is, in the al Qaeda context, an honorable man and he's viewed in their context not as a terrorist but as a statesman," Mudd told ABC News. "I would be surprised if this guy would sacrifice a wife for this operation, but I'm sure she was willing to get in front of a bullet for him."
But bin Laden's children with Fatah are not his only offspring as he was survived by at least 18 children. None of the sons, however, are in line to succeed their father for leadership of one of the most feared terror organizations in the world.
"Unlike a lot of Arab governments that are dynastic," said former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, "al Qaeda has not been and his sons have never played a real operational role of any significance. They did not appear to be groomed for leadership roles in al Qaeda."