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Pakistan to repatriate Osama's family: Report

October 08, 2011 15:53 IST
Pakistan has contacted governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen for the repatriation of slain Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's three wives and their children, according to media reports.

The development came after a judicial commission probing the Al Qaeda chief's presence in Pakistan announced on Thursday that it had withdrawn its order barring bin Laden's family from leaving the country.

Authorities had contacted Saudi Arabia and Yemen to arrange for the repatriation of bin Laden's widows and children, unnamed Pakistani officials were quoted as saying by CBS News and CNN.

Bin Laden's family, including his two Saudi and a Yemeni widow, has been in the custody of Pakistani security agencies since he was killed by US special forces during a raid in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

"We have now completed our investigations and pieced together all that we wanted to know from these family members," a senior Pakistani intelligence official told CBS News.

United States agents too had interviewed bin Laden's family members, the official said. "I believe the Americans have done their interrogation, so I don't think there is further need for US access to these people. Pakistan gave access to US officials some time back," he said.

 "A decision in principle has been made to send these people back to their homes," the official said. Only "procedural matters" remained to be resolved for their repatriation.

Pakistani government officials said in the past that one important aspect of arrangements for repatriation will be to ensure that bin Laden's widows and children do not have the opportunity to speak to the media on their return to their countries.

"These people are the only eyewitnesses to the raid on bin Laden's home. I think there is an understanding between Pakistan and the US that these people do not put out distorted accounts that could only stir up popular anger," a Pakistani government official told CBS News.

A senior unnamed Western diplomat said it was possible the entire family, including the Yemeni widow, would be first sent to Saudi Arabia.

"Once in Saudi Arabia, the controls on the media are such that you won't have any of these people calling up a big network for an interview," he said.

The diplomat warned that once the family leaves Pakistan, it would be impossible to guarantee their accounts would not eventually find their way onto the internet.

The 29-year-old Yemeni widow, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, was wounded during the US raid.

An unnamed US official, who spoke to CNN, identified the other two widows as Khairiah Sabar alias Umm Hamza and Siham Sabar or Umm Khalid.

 

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