Pakistan deports Bin Laden's family to Saudi
Islamabad, April 27, 2012
The family of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed almost a year ago by American special forces in a military town in northwest Pakistan, left the country for Saudi Arabia early on Friday morning, the family lawyer told Reuters.
The move ends months of speculation about the fate of the three widows and 11 children, who were detained by Pakistani security forces after the May 2 raid.
"Yes, they're being deported to Saudi Arabia," said Aamir Khalil, the family lawyer. "It is a special flight."
Once outside Pakistan, the family could reveal details about how the world's most wanted man was able to hide there for years, possibly assisted by elements of the powerful Pakistani military and spy agency.
Any revelations about ties to bin Laden could embarrass Pakistan and anger Washington, which had been hunting bin Laden since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
The plane took off at around 1:30 a.m. (2030 GMT) for Saudi Arabia, according to local TV channels.
Yemen's ambassador to Islamabad said the family, including his Yemeni wife, Amal al-Sadeh and her children, was heading to Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah.
"The plane carrying Amal and (her brother) Zakariya al-Sadeh and the rest of the family are heading to Jeddah," Ambassador Abdo Ali Abdulrahman told Reuters by telephone early on Friday. "This chapter that has continued for a year is now closed."
Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment.
A Yemeni foreign ministry source said Sadeh and her children had travelled to Saudi at the request of the bin Laden family to sort out their residency there and would go to Yemen later, without saying whether this would be to stay or to visit.
At the house in Islamabad where the family had been held, a white minivan pulled up to take them to the airport. The women refused to enter the van with a crush of media around it, so officials covered its windows with plastic sheets.
The Interior Ministry, which was in charge of the family, said in a statement it had "passed orders for the deportation of 14 members of OBL family in pursuance of the Court orders".
"The family was kept safe and sound in a guest house ... They have been deported to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia, today," it said.
Apart from the three widows, the deportees included seven children and four grandchildren.
Earlier this month, a court sentenced the women to 45 days in prison for entering Pakistan illegally. It ordered their deportation after the end of the prison term, which began on March 3 when they were formally arrested.
Pakistani officials describe bin Laden's long presence in the hill town of Abbottabad as a security lapse and reject suggestions that members of the military and intelligence service were complicit in hiding him there.-Reuters