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A year on from the death of Osama Bin Laden, two Pakistani men tell how they came to host the then leader of al-Qaeda.
Late one night in the summer of 2010, on the fringes of the Waziristan region in north-western Pakistan, half a dozen men of a local tribal family waited nervously for the arrival of a guest whose identity they didn’t know.
They had been alerted to this visit weeks earlier, by someone they describe simply as an “important person”. They were not given any names, and the exact time of the guest’s arrival was conveyed to them just a few hours in advance.
At about 23:00, when the world around them was in deep sleep, they heard the rumble of the approaching vehicles.
“A dozen big four-wheel drive jeeps drove into the compound,” recalls one family elder.
“They seemed to converge from different directions.”
One of the 4x4s drove up close to the veranda, and from its back seat emerged a tall and frail-looking man. He wore flowing robes and a white turban.
The waiting men couldn’t believe their eyes. Standing before them was none other than Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world.
“We were dumb-struck,” says the elder.
“He was the last person we’d expected to turn up at our doorstep.”
He stood beside the vehicle for a while, shaking hands. The elder says he kissed Osama Bin Laden’s hand and pressed it against his eyes in a gesture of reverence.
Then, putting his hand lightly on the shoulder of one of his assistants, Osama Bin Laden walked into the room they’d set up for him. The villagers didn’t follow him in. Only a couple of his own men kept him company.
A year on from the death of Osama Bin Laden, two Pakistani men tell how they came to host the then leader of al-Qaeda
This happened exactly one year before Osama Bin Laden was killed in a secret operation of the US Navy Seals in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, located some 300 km (186 miles) to the north-east of this remote tribal compound.
The shock of his death prompted one of his former hosts to tell close friends about this unexpected visit.
Two of the men who’d met Osama Bin Laden on that occasion agreed to speak about that meeting. Both requested that their names and locality be kept secret.
During the three hours Osama Bin Laden spent with them, they said he offered prayers, rested, and ate the lamb chops, chicken curry and rice they’d prepared for him and his entourage.
All that time, his hosts weren’t allowed to leave the compound, or let anyone in. Armed men took positions at the main gate, along the walls and on the roof.
There was a slight commotion among the guards when one of the hosts requested that his 85-year-old father be allowed to see Osama Bin Laden.
“Consider this to be his dying wish,” he pleaded. The message was passed to Osama Bin Laden, who agreed to see the old patriarch.
Four armed men escorted the son home to fetch his father. The old man was only told about Osama Bin Laden’s presence once they were back inside the compound.
They said the old man spent 10 minutes with Osama Bin Laden, pouring out his admiration and prayers for him, and offering time-tested advice on tribal warfare, all in his native Pashto language, which Osama Bin Laden apparently didn’t understand.
This brought smiles to the faces of Osama Bin Laden’s hosts and his guards, they say.
Osama Bin Laden and his men departed in just the same way as they’d come – their 4x4s leaving the compound in a bustling confusion – and heading out in different directions, giving his hosts little chance to determine which way Osama Bin Laden’s vehicle went.
While they were quite open about the details of the visit, they didn’t want to discuss the identity of the “important man” who had asked them to host Osama Bin Laden. They were also reluctant to share information on who else was in the entourage.
Following Osama Bin Laden’s death a year later, both Pakistani and American officials had insisted that the al-Qaeda chief had lived in total seclusion for nearly five years, without once leaving his Abbottabad compound.
That would seem not to be the case. And many questions remain unanswered.
The area where he showed up in 2010 is in the middle of a vast tribal hinterland which was, and to an extent still is, the focus of a number of military operations against militants. Troops stationed there were on high alert and had set up dozens of security checkpoints to monitor commuters along both regular and rarely frequented routes.
How did he get past those posts undetected?
The Pakistanis have always denied having any knowledge of his whereabouts or providing any support to Osama Bin Laden.
There’s also the question of who was planning his itinerary, what was the purpose of his visit and, above all, how frequently did he pay midnight visits to unsuspecting hosts?
A Pakistani official claimed today that Osama Bin Laden was betrayed by one of his wives who revealed the location of his Pakistan hideaway because she was jealous of his youngest spouse.
Khairiah Saber, the oldest of his five wives, was motivated by revenge because Osama Bin Laden was “bedding” Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada while she slept in a bedroom on the floor below, according to Shaukat Qadir.
Retired brigadier Shaukat Qadir, who has investigated the U.S. operation which killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011, also controversially claims that Khairiah Saber may have been working with Al-Qaeda itself.
Shaukat Qadir believes word that “someone very important” was living in Abbottabad got out to the Taliban, Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence service and ultimately the CIA.
He suggests that Al-Qaeda was looking to cash in on the $25 million bounty on his head. But he said he has no proof.
Pakistan claims it had not been warned about the raid, but Shaukat Qadir’s claims suggest elements in the intelligence service may have been aware.
According to the Sunday Times, it was also said that Osama Bin Laden understood what was happening, but had lost the will to live.
Trouble arose when Khairiah Saber, the mother of at least five of Osama Bin Laden’s sons, showed up at the compound in early 2011.
After 9/11, Khairiah Saber spent years under house arrest in Iran until, after her release in 2008, she told Al-Qaeda she wanted to be rejoin her husband, according to Shaukat Qadir.
He said: “Nobody really understood why she should want to come back to him. They had lost contact, there was nothing going on between them – he was bedding only Amal.”
The arrival of Khairiah Saber, a well-educated Saudi in her 60’s, was disruptive, particularly for Amal, Osama Bin Laden’s fifth wife, Siham Sabar, and her 24-year-old son, Khalid.
Shaukat Qadir said: “In the house everyone is suspicious of her and Khalid questions her, saying, <<Why the hell have you come back?>>”
Osama Bin Laden was betrayed by one of his wives who revealed the location of his Pakistan hideaway because she was jealous of his youngest spouse
He doesn’t believe Khairiah Saber had any connection with the CIA, but her arrival in Abbottabad revealed to those hunting Osama Bin Laden that he might be there. “Who else could have led them there?”
His theories go against the U.S version of events which states that Osama Bin Laden was tracked to his secret compound by following a “courier” who was his contact with the terrorist organization.
The picture of Osama Bin Laden’s family life comes after Shaukat Qadir was given rare access to transcripts of Pakistani intelligence’s interrogation of Amal, who was detained in the raid.
Others in the family, crammed into the three-story villa Abbottabad compound where Osama Bin Laden would eventually be killed in a May 2 U.S. raid, were convinced that the eldest wife intended to betray the al-Qaeda leader.
Indeed, the compound where Osama Bin Laden lived since mid-2005 was a crowded place, with 28 residents – including Bin Laden, his three wives, eight of his children and five of his grandchildren.
Osama Bin Laden’s children age range was from 24-year-old son Khalid, who was killed in the raid, to a 3-year-old born during their time in Abbottabad.
His courier, the courier’s brother and their wives and children also lived in the compound.
Osama Bin Laden’s home life was stirred up when Khairiah Saber joined the fray.
There was already bad blood between Khairiah Saber, who married Osama Bin Laden in the late 1980’s, and Amal because of his favoritism for the younger Yemeni woman.
Even ISI officials who questioned Khairiah Saber after the raid were daunted by her.
“She is so aggressive that she borders on being intimidating,” Shaukat Qadir said he was told by an ISI interrogator.
Amal stayed close to Osama Bin Laden as he fled Afghanistan into Pakistan following the 2001 U.S. invasion.
She took an active role in arranging protection for him and Osama Bin Laden wanted her by his side, the tribal leaders told Shaukat Qadir.
Khairiah Saber fled Afghanistan in 2001 into Iran along with other Osama Bin Laden relatives and al-Qaeda figures.
She and others were held under house arrest in Iran until 2010, when Tehran let them leave in a swap for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan’s frontier city of Peshawar.
Khairiah Saber showed up at Abbottabad in February or March 2011 and moved into the villa’s second floor, Amal told her interrogators.
Khalid, Osama Bin Laden’s son with Siham Sabar, was suspicious, according to Amal’s account. He repeatedly asked Khairiah Saber why she had come.
At one point, she told him: “I have one final duty to perform for my husband.” Khalid immediately told his father what she had said and warned that she intended to betray him.
Amal, who shared Khalid’s fears, said Osama Bin Laden was also suspicious but was unconcerned, acting as if fate would decide, according to Shaukat Qadir’s recounting of the interrogation transcript.
There is no evidence Khairiah Saber had any role in Osama Bin Laden’s end. Accounts by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials since the May 2 raid have made no mention of her.
Instead, U.S. officials have said the courier inadvertently led the CIA to the Abbottabad villa after they uncovered him in a monitored phone call.
Zainab Bibi has been arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, on suspicion of murdering her husband, chopping his body to pieces and boiling it in a bid to get rid of the evidence.
Zainab Bibi, 42, from Karachi, allegedly told police she killed her husband Ahmad Abbas because he tried to sexually assault her 17-year-old daughter from another marriage.
The wife told authorities she sedated Ahmad Abbas by mixing sleeping pills in his tea and strangled him with rope before dismembering him.
Police said that the landlord found Zainab Bibi at the stove, cooking a korma with flesh from her husband’s arm and leg
Police discovered Zainab Bibi’s plot after neighbors complained about a bad smell coming from her home.
Zaheer Ahmed, her 22-year-old nephew, has also been arrested in connection with dismembering Ahmad Abbas’s body.
Pakistan’s ARY News spoke to Zainab Bibi from her cell at the Shah Faisal police station, where she said: “I killed my husband before he dared to touch my daughter.”
The alarm was raised by Zainab Bibi’s landlord, Behzad, who lives on the ground floor of the two-storey Green Town house.
The landlord was so upset by the bad cooking smells coming from upstairs that he went up to complain.
Police said that the landlord found Zainab Bibi at the stove, cooking a korma with flesh from her husband’s arm and leg – because she believed it was the only way to practically dispose of his body.
Pakistani paper The Express Tribune said Zainab Bibi had been living at the house with her 17-year-old daughter Sonia and Ahmad Abbas, who she married 5 years ago and who used to be the girl’s teacher when she was at school.
Zainab Bibi was quoted in the paper as saying: “When he finally died, I felt shudders of fear for the first time.
“I didn’t have the courage to approach his body for the next half an hour.
“It occurred to me that if I cooked the body in parts with spices and aromatic ingredients that would curb the stench.”
Zainab Bibi insisted she had no plans to eat the resulting dish, or to feed it to others, adding: “I had a plan to do away with the cooked stuff by throwing it in a gutter. I would say to people that it had spoiled.”
The woman claims she had stopped Ahmad Abbas from molesting her daughter on several occasions, admitting that he had never actually laid a hand on her but had said suggestive things about her when he was drunk.
The rest of Ahmad Abbas’s body was found in an aluminium trunk on the premise.
Saif Rehman, a Scottish businessman and his American wife Uzma Naurin were gunned down in the street in a suspected honour killing while they were in Pakistan to attend a relative’s wedding.
Saif Rehman, 31, from Glasgow and Uzma Naurin, 30, from New York, were shot dead when their car was ambushed in the north-eastern city of Gujrat following a shopping trip.
The pair had been about to start a new life together in the U.S. after their trip to Pakistan for Saif Rehman’s brother’s wedding.
Saif Rehman and Uzma Naurin were accompanied by a driver, Saif Rehman’s sister and her two-year-old daughter, but the other passengers were unharmed.
Saif Rehman, a Scottish businessman and his American wife Uzma Naurin were gunned down in the street in a suspected honour killing while they were in Pakistan to attend a relative's wedding
A group of four gunmen stopped the car, opened fire and killed Saif Rehman before bundling Uzma Naurin into their vehicle and killing her at a spot nearby – then dumping her body by the roadside.
Pakistani police are probing claims that there had been tension between the couple’s in-laws over their marriage three years ago.
Saif Rehman and Uzma Naurin were married in Manchester but another, fuller ceremony involving both sides of the family took place in Glasgow in June, when it appeared that the differences might have been resolved.
Sources close to the dispute last night suggested Saif Rehman’s relatives had been happy with the marriage, but it had caused upset among some of his bride’s relatives.
Saif Ali, 30, of Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire, who runs a mobile phone repair company, met Saif Rehman – who ran a similar firm called GSM Communications in Glasgow – three years ago.
Saif Ali said: “It was a long-distance relationship between Saif and Uzma but they made it work really well. Saif had just got a visa to go to the U.S., so they were on the brink of a new life together when this happened.
“I found out from Saif’s brother when the killings happened on November 1 and couldn’t believe it – I was shocked, angry and devastated because we were very close. Saif had been in Glasgow for six years and met Uzma at a friend’s wedding four or five years ago.”
Describing their murder, Saif Ali added: “They were going back home and basically, all of a sudden, their driver just stopped the car.
“Four people were in a different car which stopped in front of them. They pulled Saif, his sister, her daughter and his wife out of the car and, as soon as he was pulled out of the car, they shot him without saying anything.”
Saif Ali said that “no words were exchanged” between Saif Rehman and any of the people who shot him.
Saif Ali added: “Five minutes up the road they basically killed her (Uzma Naurin) as well. She wasn’t found until quite a bit of time later.
“Probably about three or four hours later, she was found, as they had basically put her in the shrubs somewhere, just on the side of the road.”
Saif Ali said Uzma Naurin worked in sales for Costa Coffee and was based in New Jersey.
Uzma Naurin’s father, a taxi driver in New York, had relatives in Gujrat and the driver of the car the couple were in when they were shot is said to have been employed by his Pakistani relatives.
British Foreign Office cannot become involved as Saif Rehman was a Pakistani national and his wife was a U.S. citizen.
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