JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has allowed the three widows and children of slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden entrance into the kingdom on humanitarian grounds, a Saudi-owned daily reported on Saturday.
Citing a senior Saudi official, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat said the kingdom “dealt with Bin Laden’s wives on humanitarian grounds,” adding that authorities were confident that they and the children “were not involved in” the operations of the extremist group.
The widows – two Saudis and a Yemeni – arrived on Friday with their 10 children, after being expelled from Pakistan, Mohammed Naji Allaw, head of the Yemeni non-governmental group Hood, told AFP.
Saudi Arabia has kept totally silent on the issue and so far has not officially confirmed their arrival.
Yemen’s ambassador to Islamabad, Abdo Abdulrahman, however told the newspaper “Bin Laden’s family arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday morning … on a private plane provided by the Bin Laden family.”
He said Amal al-Sadaa, the Yemeni wife who fathered five of Bin Laden’s children and is said to have been his favourite, left Pakistan on Yemeni travel documents and “could return to Yemen” after a brief visit with her husband’s extended family.
The senior Saudi official told the daily Saada was granted “a visitor’s visa to pass through Saudi Arabia.”
Allaw told AFP on Friday that preparations for Sadaa’s return to Yemen were already underway.
Hood, which deals with human rights cases in Yemen, especially those concerning children, has been tasked by the widow’s brother, Zakaria Abdulfattah al-Sadaa, with looking after her case.
Last week, family lawyer Atif Ali Khan said Sadaa and her children might be sent to Yemen after Saudi Arabia.
The United States declined to comment on the deportation.
“We see that as a matter between the Pakistanis and the Saudis,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.
At around midnight Pakistan time on Thursday, a minivan whisked the 9/11 mastermind’s relatives from the Islamabad house where they had been in detention to the city’s airport. They left for Saudi Arabia just before 2:00am.
A Pakistani interior ministry spokesman said deportation orders were issued for 14 Bin Laden relatives to Saudi Arabia, “the country of their choice.” The family was previously thought to number 12 – three widows, eight children and one grandchild.
After being held for 10 months, the widows and two of Bin Laden’s older daughters were sentenced by a Pakistani court to 45 days detention in their Islamabad house on charges of illegal entry and residency and ordered to be deported.
Their deportation comes nearly a year after the al Qaeda leader was killed in a US raid.