Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

US wants access to bin Laden widows

US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Pakistani authorities need to provide access to Osama bin Laden's widows (AP Photo/NBC)

The United States wants access to three widows of Osama bin Laden being held by Pakistani authorities, something that could help answer questions about whether any officials knew the al Qaida chief was living in the country, a top American official said.

Pakistan authorities were not immediately available for comment on the demand, which could be a fresh sticking point between the two countries. US-Pakistani relations were frayed before the unilateral US raid, and appear to have worsened since.

Information from the three women left behind in the house after American commandos killed bin Laden could also reveal the day-to-day life of bin Laden, what he has done since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the workings of al Qaida.

Several children were also taken into custody, some or all of them believed to be bin Laden's.

The al Qaida chief was found in a large house close to a military academy in the army town of Abbottabad, where he had been living for up to six years. His location raised suspicions that some Pakistani authorities, possibly elements of the powerful army and intelligence services, could have been colluding with him.

US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told NBC's Meet the Press that Washington had seen no evidence that the government was colluding with bin Laden, but he said that Pakistani authorities "need to provide us with intelligence, by the way, from the compound that they've gathered, including access to Osama bin Laden's three wives".

Mr Donilon also said Pakistani authorities had collected other evidence from the house which the United States wanted to "work with them on assessing".

The commandos seized a large and valuable intelligence haul that included videos, telephone numbers and documents, according to US officials.

The Pakistani government has strongly denied it knew of bin Laden's whereabouts, but Western governments have long regarded Islamabad with suspicion.

Late on Sunday, two loud blasts were heard in Abbottabad, but the source of the explosions was not immediately clear. The compound where bin Laden was found appeared undamaged.

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