by Florian Flade
Osama Bin Laden was killed in a compound in Northeastern Pakistan – but who are the people that lived in the luxury hideout for years? The US raid not only resulted in the death of the Al-Qaida leader but also killed one of his sons, a possible successor. Wives and children were arrested and are now in Pakistani custody. A look at the inhabitants of the Abbottabad mansion.
Operation „Geronimo“ lasted only 38 minutes. US Special Forces of Navy Seals Team Six raided a compound in Bilal Town of Abbottabad in Northeastern Pakistan. They went room to room in search for their target: Osama Bin Laden.
When the Americans withdrew after less than an hour, Bin Laden was dead, killed by shots in the head and the chest. Pakistani soldiers who were surprised by the US military operation and entered the Al-Qaida leader´s hideout a short time after the US raid, found a gruesome scene. The dead bodies of three men – Bin Ladens Kurier „Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti“, the courier´s brother and a alleged bodyguard – were lying on the ground, bloodsoaken and riddled with bullets. Up to 23 other people among them women and children, were found handcuffed, left behind by the US soldiers.
The Pakistani military took the surviving inhabitants of the Bin Laden mansion in custody. According to the Pakistani authorities the people are part of three families which were living in the Abbottabad compound – the family of the two brothers described as Bin Laden´s curiers, and the wives and children of Osama Bin Laden himself.
One young woman who was in the same room as Osama Bin Laden assaulted the US Navy Seals during the house raid, running towards the soldiers posing as a human shield. The soldiers shot the woman in the leg, injuring her but – in contrast to earlier reports – did not kill her. At first there were contradictory reports about the identity of the female attacker. Bin Laden used the woman as a human shield to protect himself, media reported. Meanwhile it is confirmed the woman is indeed Bin Laden´s youngest wife.
The passport a 29year-old Yemeni that was identified as Amal al-Sadah, Bin Laden wife, has been found inside the mansion. For years there have been rumors Bin Ladens Yemeni wife had turned her back on the Al-Qaida founder and returned to her homeland of Yemen. Now it becomes clear: the young woman, her daughter and possible additional children lived on Bin Laden´s side since September 11th 2001.
Al-Sadah´s story as the wife of the most-wanted man in the world begins in late 2000. Back then Bin Laden sent his Yemeni bodyguard Abu Jandal to the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to find a new wife. Osama Bin Laden´s father was a Yemeni labourer, the country is in fact home of his ancestry.
A local assistant was tasked to find a wife that would meet Bin Laden´s demands. The criteria was: the future wife should be religious and young.
In the city of Ibb, south of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the Bin Laden associate found a 18year-old Yemeni woman named Amal of a renowned tribe. The family of the teenage woman agreed to marry the daughter to the Saudi terrorist leader. A bride´s money of US-Dollars 5,000 was given to Amal´s family which immediately started a pre-marriage celebration prior to the young woman´s departure for Afghanistan.
The Yemeni Bin Laden assistant brought the woman from Sanaa first to Karachi, then to Quetta were they stayed for a few days until Bin Laden sent some guards to pick her up and bring her into Afghanistan. In Kandahar, the Taliban capital, the wedding took place. According to eyewitnesses high-ranking Al-Qaida figures like the late Chief of Finances, Egyptian Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, were present at the event.
Osama Bin Laden´s sons Mohammed and Uthman were everything but pleased by their father´s decision to marry an 18 year-old. „Why did you bring our father a girl of our age?“, they asked the Yemeni Al-Qaida man who picked Amal as Bin Laden´s fifth wife. It turned out Amal al-Sadah, the daughter of a civil servant, became Bin Laden´s favorite wife. Shortly after the marriage, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first child, Safiya, in the days around September 11th 2001.
Today Safiya would be around nine years old. It is unknown wether or not she was present at the Abbottabad compound when the US Special forces raided it on Sunday night. One daughter of Osama Bin Laden was injured by the shrapnel of a grenade, media reported without mentioning the young girl´s name.
Three wives of Bin Laden, a Yemeni nurse who was very likely his private doctor, and at least eight to nine children are in Pakistani custody since Monday. Pakistani officials confirmed those found inside the Bin Laden mansion are being treated in a hospital near Rawalpindi, safeguarded by Pakistani troops. Amal al-Sadah told the Pakistani interrogators that Bin Laden had lived in Abbottabad since 2005. According to Arab TV channel Al-Arabiya a 12 year-old daughter of the Al-Qaida leader claimed she saw her father being captured alive by the American soldiers before they executed him.
Meanwhile it is confirmed from US officials that Operation „Geronimo“ killed not only Bin Laden himself but also his 22 year-old son Hamza. This news is not very surprising as Hamza, who was born 1989 in Jeddah (Saudi-Arabia), was expected to be with his father. Hamza Bin Laden is considered a favorite of Bin Laden and a possible successor as the Emir of al-Qaida.
Hamza and his mother, Bin Laden´s third wife Khairiah, whom the Al-Qaida founder married in 1985, stayed with Bin Laden after the attacks of 9-11. Both are very likely to have joined him on his escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan after the US bombing began in late 2001. If the Saudi-Arabian woman Khairiah is among those arrested in Abbottabad, is not known.
After the military raid on the Bin Laden hideout, US soldiers took Osama and Hamza Bin Laden´s bodies. Both father and son were then buried at sea, as media outlets reported and some anonymous US officials confirmed.
For years Bin Laden had used his son Hamza for propaganda purposes and made him part of Al-Qaida. A video aired by TV channel Al-Jazeera in 2002 featured the teenage Hamza Bin Laden reciting a poem standing in the wrackage of a shot-down US helicopter in the Afghan desert, surrounded by masked and armed Al-Qaida fighters. Other footage recorded prior to 9-11 showed Hamza Bin Laden in a terror training camp in Afghanistan praising his father and Jihad.
In the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan, Bin Laden´s son allegedly took part in an ambush on Pakistani troops. The Taliban propaganda tape releases six years ago, shows Hamza Bin Laden carrying a gun.