One of three wives living with Osama bin Laden told Pakistani interrogators she had been staying in the al-Qaida chief’s hideout for five years, and could be a key source of information about how he avoided capture for so long, a Pakistani intelligence official said Friday. In its first confirmation of bin Laden’s death, al-Qaida warned of retaliation in an Internet statement, saying Americans’ “happiness will turn to sadness.”
Bin Laden’s wife, identified as Yemeni-born Amal Ahmed Abdullfattah, said she never left the upper floors of the house the entire time she was there. She and bin Laden’s other two wives are being interrogated in Pakistan after they were taken into custody following Monday’s American raid on bin Laden’s compound in the town of Abbottabad. Pakistani authorities are also holding eight or nine children who were found there after the U.S. commandos left. Given shifting and incomplete accounts from U.S. officials about what happened during the raid, testimony from bin Laden’s wives may be significant in unveiling details about the operation.
Their accounts could also help show how bin Laden spent his time and managed to stay hidden, living in a large house close to a military academy in a garrison town, a two-and-a-half hours’ drive from the capital, Islamabad. The Pakistani official said CIA officers had not been given access to the women in custody. Already tense military and intelligence relations between the United States and Pakistan have been further strained after the helicopter-borne raid, which many Pakistanis see as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.