Pakistan Deports Bin Laden's Family To Saudi Arabia
April 27, 2012
The family of Osama bin Laden has been deported from Pakistan.
Officials and lawyers said bin Laden's 14 family members boarded a flight for Saudi Arabia early on April 27.
"Three of them were [his] widows, and the remaining 11 were his children and grandchildren," Mohammad Amir Khalil, a lawyer representing the family, told a Pakistani television channel.
The move ends months of speculation about the fate of bin Laden's family members who were detained by Pakistani security forces after the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in a U.S. raid in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2 last year.
The family members were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents and bin Laden's wives and two eldest children eventually charged with illegally entering and living in the country.
Earlier this month, the five were sentenced to six weeks in prison for staying in Pakistan illegally. They were also sentenced to deportation.
After months of detention at an unknown location, the family was moved to a house in the capital, Islamabad, which was declared a "sub jail" for the family.
The residence attracted media's attention after the number of police officers guarding the compound swelled, but none of the family members were allowed to talk to the media
Late on April 26, a white minivan pulled up at the house in Islamabad where the family was being held. The police kept the family away from journalists and rushed them to the airport, where a charter flight was waiting.
The two oldest wives are Saudi Arabian, but the youngest, Amal Abdulfattah, is Yemeni. It is from leaks of her interrogations with Pakistani intelligence agencies that the most insight into bin Laden's time in Pakistan has been gained.
Analysts say that once outside Pakistan, the family could reveal details about how the world's most wanted man was able to hide in Pakistan for years, possibly assisted by elements of the country's powerful military and spy agencies.
Any revelations about ties to bin Laden could embarrass Pakistan and anger Washington, which had been hunting bin Laden since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The news comes after the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it was restricting its staff from visiting restaurants and markets in the Pakistani capital around the anniversary of bin Laden's death amid concerns militants may launch attacks.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Pakistani media
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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