Saudi Arabia has flatly refused to accept the three widows and nine children of Osama Bin Laden, who are currently in protective custody in Islamabad, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Bin Laden’s family was detained by Pakistani authorities for questioning after the al Qaeda godfather was killed in the May 2 top-secret operation by the US special forces in Abbottabad.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, during his recent visit to Riyadh, had formally requested the Saudi authorities to accept Bin Laden’s family, a highly-placed source said. The Saudis said that Bin Laden had been stripped of Saudi citizenship more than 15 years ago.
The Pakistani request came after the Yemeni government refused to accept Amal Abdulfattah, one of the three widows of Bin Laden and her five children – as its citizens.
Bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 after he criticised the royal family’s reliance on US troops to protect it after the Iraqi invasion of neighbouring Kuwait.
In a related development, Pakistani investigators have established links between Monday’s killing of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi with the kingdom’s refusal to accept Bin Laden’s family, officials told The Express Tribune.
“The Saudi diplomat’s murder was a mark of protest by al Qaeda against the Saudi’s indifferent attitude towards Bin laden’s family who have been subjected to interrogation by the United States,” an investigation official said.
“It was also a demonstration of their solidarity with Bin Laden’s family and a warning to Pakistan against the possible extradition of the family to the US,’’ he added.
The official said that investigators have found evidence of al Qaeda’s involvement in Monday’s murder of the Saudi diplomat and an early grenade attack on the Saudi mission in Karachi. He added that a local militant outfit aided al Qaeda in the two attacks.
The assertion was corroborated by Interior Minister Rehman Malik who said on Tuesday that al Qaeda’s involvement in the Saudi diplomat’s killing was undoubted.
Meanwhile, Malik announced a reward of Rs5 million for anyone providing information about the killers of the Saudi diplomat.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2011.