Islamabad, Dec 10: Three of Osama bin Laden's widows, who were captured following the US raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader, are soon expected to leave Pakistan after seven months in custody, according to a media report.
The three women - two Saudis and one Yemeni - were picked up by Pakistani security officials early on the morning of May 2 in Abbottabad, just minutes after US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in the compound where he was believed to be living for six years.
A Pakistani intelligence official told ABC News that the three widows had been cleared to leave Pakistan a month ago. Saudi Arabia recently restored the citizenship of wives Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar, according to Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat.
Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, another wife from Yemen, will likely go to Qatar, according to The Guardian newspaper. Two Western officials said they were not surprised by the announcement but cautioned that the repatriation of the women might not happen quickly.
US officials have been generally dismissive of the wives' relevance to investigations into bin Laden since failing to get information out of them.
The three women have been held by Pakistan's intelligence service since May but it is not clear they ever knew enough to shed light on bin Laden's travels after 2001 and how he came to be living in Abbottabad, ABC News reported.
US officials told the channel they were allowed to speak to the women once, and that the oldest of the three was “so combative that nothing at all came from the interrogation”.
Pakistani officials have not said “how much, if anything, they learned from the women”, who were debriefed by Pakistani intelligence officials and a judicial commission investigating bin Laden's presence in the country.
The commission's head, former apex court judge Javed Iqbal, said on Thursday that bin Laden's widows and children had been thoroughly questioned and their statements recorded. The commission had informed the government that the women and children could be repatriated to their own country as they were no longer needed, he said.
In the months after the US raid, Pakistani and American officials described the women as uncooperative and it was not clear that they knew much about bin Laden's work, especially in Abbottabad, ABC News reported.
Bin Laden and his wives apparently lived on the top two floors of the three-storey house in the compound at Abbottabad but the al-Qaeda leader could separate himself as much as he wished. The house was built to sustain multiple families independent of each other.
The world's most wanted man was married five times, but was separated from two of his wives. Bin Laden's first wife, a Syrian, left him shortly before the 9/11 terror attacks and his fourth wife divorced him.
In the dramatic moments after the US commandos left Abbottabad, it was the wives who first identified bin Laden as among the dead.
Pakistani military officers reached the house about 15 minutes after the SEALs departed. The three women were handcuffed and screaming in Arabic, their children running around them, according to Pakistani officials. One of the Pakistani officers was finally able to communicate with one of the Saudi wives in broken English.
“They killed him! They killed Abu Hamza,” she screamed, according to an account provided to ABC News in May. The Pakistani official had no idea what she was talking about. “What are you saying? Who is Abu Hamza?” he asked. She seemed surprised that he didn't understand the significance of the raid. “Osama bin Laden,” she replied.