Islamabad: Pakistan today deported 14 members of Osama bin Laden’s family, including his three widows, to Saudi Arabia, days before the first anniversary of the death of the al-Qaeda chief.
The family was taken amidst tight security at around midnight to Chaklala military airbase in Rawalpindi, where a special Saudi aircraft was standing by to fly out the women and children.
Security agencies sent a mini bus to the house in Sector G-6 of Islamabad where the family was being held to transport them to the airport. The widows initially refused to enter the bus in the presence of large number of journalists who had gathered at the house and officials covered its windows with plastic sheets.
TV news channels beamed footage of two smiling women seated at the front of the bus as it drove away from the house. Two of the widows are Saudi nationals while the third, Amal Abdulfattah, is a Yemeni national.
The Interior Ministry, which was responsible for the deportation of the family, said in a statement that authorities had “passed orders for the deportation of 14
members of (bin Laden’s) family in pursuance of the court orders”.
“The family was kept safe and sound in a guesthouse…They have been deported to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia”, the statement said.
After US special forces killed bin Laden during a raid in the garrison town of Abbottabad on 2 May last year, his widows and children were detained by Pakistani intelligence agencies. They were handed over to the Interior Ministry earlier this year.
A civil court recently sentenced the widows and two grown-up daughters to 45 days in prison for entering and living in Pakistan illegally. The judge ordered their deportation on completion of the prison term, which began on
3 March when the family was formally arrested.
The deportation ended speculation about the fate of the widows and children of the slain al-Qaeda chief. Pakistani security agencies have claimed they were unaware of bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan and rejected suggestions that
members of the military establishment were involved in sheltering him.