Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s rosy portrayal of being married to jihad was sorely tested as he lived with three wives and 17 children during his last days.
“Believe me, when your children and your wife become part of your struggle, life becomes very enjoyable,” TIME quoted bin Laden, as saying before the 9/11 terror attack, when he was able to keep his four wives and several children living comfortably in separate houses across Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan, the wives were able to steer clear of one another. According to a 2002 interview that “AS,” presumed to be al-Sadah, gave to Al Majalla magazine, the women “did not live in one house. Each wife lived in her own house. There were two wives in Kandahar, each with her own house. The third wife had a house in Kabul, and the fourth in the Tora Bora mountains.”
Even then, a polygamous family is not without its frictions, the report said, adding that when al-Sadah joined the growing clan in 2000, “bin Laden’s other wives were upset, and even his mother chastised him,” according to Lawrence Wright, journalist and author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.
However, during his last days in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bin Laden had to contend with three wives and 17 noisy children under one roof.
He had no escape from the din, save for furtive pacing around the garden late at night or vanishing into his so-called Command and Control Center, a dank, windowless room, the report said.
Swathed against the Himalayan chill in a woollen shawl, he recorded rants that displayed an ever widening disconnect with the daily grind of terrorism: his last oddball offerings were on climate change and capitalism, the report added.
The world’s most wanted terrorist was also a family man. An Arab woman married to an al-Qaeda fighter told TIME that after 9/11, bin Laden and his lieutenants made provisions for their families to flee the impending NATO invasion of Afghanistan.
His youngest wife, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, may have escaped to Yemen via Pakistan, while bin Laden’s other wives are thought to have fled through Iran, said the report, adding that however, the Al Qaida chief got lonely after sending his wives.
After setting up camp in Pakistan and breaking his own orders, he summoned back three wives: al-Sadah and two Saudi women he had wed in the 1980s.
Judging by the blueprints of the Abbottabad compound, bin Laden tried to keep his three families separate but equal, the report said, adding that each wife and her children were allotted their own floor, and bin Laden would spend time with each group. (ANI)