New York: Osama bin Laden, the world's most
wanted fugitive who spent his last days being sidelined from
al Qaeda despite having created the terror outfit, was
probably betrayed by one of his jealous wives and his deputy.
It seems all was not well in Osama bin Laden's safe house
in Pakistan towards the end, the New York Times reported
saying there was "poisonous mistrust" between Osama's three
wives, with one of them being accused of betraying him to US
A new twist to the mystery of how bin Laden got a
shelter in a Pakistani cantonment town for over six years,
before he was gunned down by US SEALs and his last days have
come from a retired Pakistani brigadier Shaukat Qadir, who
carried out his own investigations, the Times said.
Besides the intense jealousies among his wives, Qadir
claims that bin Laden had been sidelined by his outfit.
"al Qaeda decided to retire him in 2003 as he was mentally
senile having picked up some degenerative disease from 2001."
Last August, the retired brigadier, retraced the steps of
the American commandos who stormed through the corridors of
bin Laden's hide-out on May 2 last year.
Qadir, who claims that his army background was crucial to
get army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's approval to make two
visits to bin Laden's house, says he has no evidence, but
offers a tantalising image of a frail man betrayed through one
of his wives in an al Qaeda plot.
The Brigadier claims that his theories are his own, but
admits he may have been manipulated by the army and ISI who
are still fending off suspicions of complicity in sheltering
Qadir says that the terror mastermind used to stay on the
top floor, sharing his bedroom with his favourite and youngest
wife. The trouble began when his eldest wife showed up and
moved into the bedroom on the floor below.
The mistrust grew so much that one of bin Laden's older
wives pointed fingers at his "favoured wife" for betraying
"As a former soldier, I was struck by how badly the house
was defended," Qadir told the New York Times. "No proper
security measures, nothing high-tech in fact, nothing like you
Qadir claims that bin Laden's fifth and youngest wife
Amal Ahmed al-Sadah told Pakistani interrogators that her
husband underwent a kidney transplant in 2002.
"In the cramped Abbottabad house... tensions erupted
between Sadah, described as 'the favoured wife' and Khairiah
Saber, an older woman who occupied a separate floor," Qadir
Bin Laden's youngest wife also told interrogators that
her husband shaved his beard and disguised himself as an
ailing Pashtun elder as he leapfrogged between safe houses
across northwestern Pakistan, eventually regrowing the beard
after finally settling in the Abbottabad house in 2005.
Qadir's investigation "offers tantalising possibilities
about bin Laden's circumstances and the suspicions that drove
relations between Pakistan and US to the brink," the NYT said.
A former Obama administration official agreed with some
of Qadir's findings, like a claim that bin Laden and his
deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, suffered serious disagreements that
led to the al Qaeda chief being pushed to the sidelines.
"This divide grew with time, and remained a source of
tension until the day bin Laden died," the official told the
paper, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "His role had
Qadir's probe lasted eight months and took him to the
tribal belt and Afghanistan to interview old tribal contacts.
He says he also spoke with officials of Pakistani
intelligence agency ISI.
The Times said despite bin Laden's death, many of the
toughest questions remain. Who helped him stay on the run? How
did the CIA track him down? And, perhaps most important, did
Pakistan's generals know he was living a stone's throw from
their leading military academy?
Pakistan's government says the answers will come from an
official commission of inquiry, led by a Supreme Court judge,
that has been working since May. Yet few believe the
Abbottabad Commission, as it is known, will succeed.
Publication of the commission's findings, originally
scheduled for December, has been repeatedly postponed, and
critics of the government smell political pressure to tone
down its findings.
On the night of February 25, the local authorities in
Abbottabad sent bulldozers to demolish bin Laden's house after
nightfall, erasing a painful symbol of an embarrassing episode
for the military.
First Published: Friday, March 09, 2012, 22:54