Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, 29, expected to return home after being held by security services since US raid on compound
* Jason Burke in Riyadh
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 June 2011
* Article history
Osama bin Laden's youngest wife is expected to leave Pakistan for her homeland, Yemen, within days.
Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, 29, has been held by security services since US special forces killed Bin Laden, whom she married in 1999.
Sadah was wounded in the operation and detained by Pakistani authorities in the compound in the northern garrison town of Abbottabad where her husband was hiding. She is believed to have been questioned by US intelligence services.
Reports in newspapers in the Yemen and Saudi Arabia, confirmed by officials in Riyadh, indicate that arrangements have been finalised between Yemeni and Pakistani diplomats for the return of Sadah and her 12-year-old daughter, Safiya, who was also injured in the raid.
Bin Laden's third and fourth wives were also found at the compound by Pakistani authorities after the US operation. Both were born in Bin Laden's home town of Jeddah, on the southern Red Sea coast, and are Saudi citizens. The oldest, Khairiah Sabar, married the former Taliban leader in 1985. The third wife held by the Pakistanis, Siham Sabar, was married in 1987. Both women are college graduates.
Officials in Riyadh told the Guardian that, at least theoretically, there was no objection to their return to Saudi Arabia. Their husband, who was 57 when he died, was stripped of his Saudi Arabian citizenship in 1994 after he turned against the rulers of the kingdom, which he eventually fled, after the first Gulf war.
Hamza, a 22-year-old son of Bin Laden was killed in the raid. The bodies of both men were buried at sea. The women and about 10 of Bin Laden's children and grandchildren were handcuffed by special forces who then left.
Sadah's brother, Zakria al-Sadah, told the Yemen Times this week that Yemeni diplomats in Pakistan had told him his sister would "arrive in the coming days" after the completion of legal formalities. Negotiations over the exact arrangements for the journey had been long and complicated, the newspaper said.
Sadah's family has repeatedly called for her repatriation. Shortly after Bin Laden's death they spoke to a reporter from the Associated Press news agency in their home in Ibb, an agricultural town in the mountains about 100 miles south of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a.
They said they had seen Sadah only once since her wedding in 2000, when she was 17. Since then, communication was largely limited to messages delivered by couriers.
Sadah fled from Afghanistan with her daughter in the months after the 11 September attacks and is believed to have told investigators she had spent five years in the compound in Pakistan without leaving the gates. Their location in the intervening period is unknown.
Bin Laden's two other wives – two earlier marriages ended in divorce – fled the al-Qaida leader's base near Kandahar in late 2011 and were driven by a trusted associate into Pakistan, according to interrogation files from the Guantánamo Bay detention centre recently released by WikiLeaks and published by the Guardian.
Sadah, whose father is a minor civil servant, told her friends and family she wanted to "go down in history", according to her cousin, Waleed Hashem Abdel-Fatah al-Sadah.
Weeks after the proposal, a dowry of $5,000 (£3,000) was wired by Bin Laden and, accompanied by an intermediary, Sadah travelled through Dubai and Pakistan to Afghanistan to meet her bridegroom for the first time.
When the family learned through a courier that she had given birth to a daughter, a group of relatives travelled to Afghanistan, where they spent a month. On the final day of the visit, a cousin recalled Bin Laden telling the young mother she could stay with him in Afghanistan or return home with her family. "I want to be martyred with you and I won't leave as long as you're alive," he recalled her saying.