(WASHINGTON) — Osama bin Laden’s youngest wife has revealed that the al Qaeda leader spent a vast majority of his time after the 9/11 attacks not hiding in caves but living in Pakistani cities, where he moved several times and fathered a handful of children.
According to a police report dated Jan. 17 and obtained by ABC News, bin Laden’s youngest wife Amal Ahmad Abdul Fatah claims that except for the eight or nine months just after 9/11 when the family “scattered” and she does not account for bin Laden’s whereabouts, the most wanted man in the world skipped from home to home in Peshawar, Swat and Haripur, Pakistan before settling in Abbottabad for about the last six years of his life. In his time on the run, bin Laden managed to father four children — at least two of whom were born in government hospitals. Far from the popular image of bin Laden holed up in a cave in the rugged Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, Fatah said the family lived in houses.
“The inescapable conclusion is that he was helped by high-level officials in Pakistan,” said Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism advisor and now a consultant to ABC News.
Bin Laden was killed in his compound in Abbottabad in a nighttime raid by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011.
Fatah said that she spent very little time in the hospital when she gave birth to bin Laden’s children — just two or three hours — and, except for when they were in Abbottabad, bin Laden’s family moved houses often even if they were staying in the same city.
American officials have said they suspected some Pakistani officials must have known bin Laden had been hiding in Pakistan.
“I don’t have any hard evidence, so I can’t say it for a fact. There’s nothing that proves the case. But as I said, my personal view is that somebody somewhere probably had that knowledge,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CBS News’ 60 Minutes in January.
Sen. Carl Levin, D.-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Jonathan Karl of ABC News right after bin Laden died that “at high levels, high levels being the intelligence service … [the Pakistanis] knew it.”
The new report is part of the Pakistani government’s investigation into whether bin Laden’s three wives entered Pakistan illegally. Bin Laden was married to four wives in all, but divorced his first wife prior to 9/11. According to the report, Fatah, a Yemeni, got a temporary visa to enter Pakistan for “medical treatment” in 2000 that expired after a few months. For the next decade, the report says, she was considered an illegal immigrant.
American officials were able to interview bin Laden’s wives shortly after the raid that killed the terror leader, but they described the wives as being uncooperative.
Earlier this month, new details emerged about bin Laden’s last days in his compound in Abbottabad where he was caught between two feuding wives and in danger of being betrayed from the inside.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Dana Ford, CNN Newswire
Eliott C. McLaughlin, Holly Yan and Euan McKirdy, CNN Newswire