- Associated Press - Monday, April 2, 2012

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court on Monday convicted Osama bin Laden’s three widows and two of his daughters of illegally entering and living in the country and sentenced them to 45 days in jail, with credit for time served, their attorney said.

The five women have been in detention since May, when U.S. commandos killed the al Qaeda chief at the walled, three-story compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, where he had been living with his family for six years.

Pakistani authorities formally arrested the women March 3, so they will serve another two weeks in jail and then will be deported to their home countries along with the family’s younger children, their attorney, Mohammed Amir Khalil, said.

The case treads on several sensitive issues for Pakistan. The army faced rare domestic criticism after the U.S. raid because it was powerless to stop it. Citizens also said bin Laden’s presence in the country for so long either pointed to the military’s incompetence or complicity.

Two of the widows are Saudi and one is Yemeni, Mr. Khalil said. He said Yemen has consented to the return, but he is still in discussions with Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994 because of his verbal attacks against the Saudi royal family.

The five women also were ordered to pay a fine of about $110 each, which already has been done, said Mr. Khalil. The attorney does not plan to appeal the court’s ruling.

Islamabad was outraged by the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden because it was not told about it beforehand. Pakistani officials have said they had no idea the al Qaeda chief was in Abbottabad, something many in Washington found hard to believe because his compound was close to Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point.

The U.S. has not found any evidence indicating senior Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts.

But details uncovered recently from the interrogation of his Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, 30, raised fresh questions about how bin Laden was able to remain undetected for so long in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite being the subject of a massive international manhunt.

After leaving Afghanistan, bin Laden lived in five safe houses in the course of nine years while on the run in Pakistan and fathered four children - two of them born in government hospitals, according to al-Sada’s interrogation report, which was obtained by the Associated Press.

Al-Sada’s account says she flew to Pakistan in 2000 and traveled to Afghanistan, where she married bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

After Sept. 11, the family “scattered,” and she traveled to Karachi. She later met up with bin Laden in Peshawar and then moved to the Swat Valley, where they lived in two houses. They moved one more time before settling in Abbottabad in 2005.

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