Bin Ladens leave Pakistan for Saudi Arabia

Agence France-Presse
The family's departure will remove a physical reminder of how badly Washington and Islamabad's relationship was damaged by the revelation that the world's most wanted man was living a stone's throw from Pakistan's elite military academy

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) – Osama bin Laden’s family was expelled from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia on Friday, April 27, said an interior ministry spokesman, nearly a year after the 9/11 mastermind was killed in a US raid.

The Al-Qaeda leader’s 3 widows and their children were detained by Pakistani authorities after the Saudi was killed in a US Navy SEAL operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, last May.

The family’s departure will remove a physical reminder of how badly Washington and Islamabad’s relationship was damaged by the revelation that the world’s most wanted man was living a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s elite military academy.

“They are at the airport and about to leave the country for Saudi Arabia. A special plane arrived to take them and is scheduled to leave at around 1:30 (2030 GMT Thursday),” an interior ministry official told AFP.

A court sentenced the widows and two of bin Laden’s older daughters to 45 days’ detention on charges of illegal entry and residency in Pakistan and ordered their deportation.

The family were believed to number 12 — 3 widows, 8 children and 1 grandchild — though an interior ministry spokesman said orders were passed for the deportation of 14 bin Laden relatives.

Special plane

Around midnight on Friday a minibus collected the terror kingpin’s family from the Islamabad house where they had served the sentence, which was completed 10 days ago.

“A special plane arrived and is waiting for the family. There will be immigration procedures inside the airport, then they will go,” an airport security source said.

The family was originally supposed to be deported after completing their sentence last week but the move dragged on — officially because legal formalities were not complete but amid suggestions the Saudis were reluctant to accept such a notorious group.

Then on Thursday, a Pakistani security official said, “some development happened late in the evening,” allowing them to be deported.

The discovery of the 9/11 mastermind in Abbottabad dealt a huge blow to US-Pakistan relations and led to accusations of Pakistani complicity or incompetence.

After fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden moved his family around Pakistan before settling in a 3-storey house inside a walled compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad in 2005.

Bin Laden’s youngest and reportedly favorite wife Amal Abdulfattah, 30, told Pakistani interrogators that bin Laden had fathered 4 children while he hid out in Pakistan, according to a police report seen by AFP last month.

In February the Pakistani authorities, reluctant for the Abbottabad house to become a shrine to the dead terror leader, used bulldozers to raze the building to the ground. –