Bin Laden family's Pakistan deportation hits snag from brother of Qaeda leader's youngest widow

A Pakistani police commando stands guard outside a house where the family of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be held in Islamabad April 17, 2012. AP Photo

(AP) ISLAMABAD - A lawyer for Osama bin Laden's three widows and their nine children said the family is expected to be deported from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia later Wednesday.

Mohammad Amir Khalil said the family was unable to leave overnight Tuesday as planned because the brother of bin Laden's youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, was not in possession of his passport.

Zakaria al-Sada has been in Pakistan campaigning for his sister Amal's release.

Khalil said his passport was currently being held by a Pakistani court, but it was expected to be released later Wednesday.

He said the family would then likely leave for Saudi Arabia.

The family has been in Pakistani detention since the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden almost a year ago.

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The family was detained by Pakistani authorities immediately after the pre-dawn raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on May 2 at a compound in Abbottabad. The American commandos left them behind but took bin Laden's body, which they later buried at sea.

The relatives were interrogated by Pakistani officials and eventually charged last month with illegally entering and living in the country. They were convicted on April 2 and sentenced to 45 days in prison, with credit for about a month served. Their prison term, which was spent at a well-guarded house in Islamabad, ended Tuesday.

Pakistani officials have said very little publicly about the family, raising questions about why they were kept in detention for so long.

Some speculated Pakistan was worried information from the widows would point to some level of official assistance in hiding bin Laden. The compound in Abbottabad where he lived for six years was about half a mile from one of Pakistan's main military academies.

The Pakistani government has denied knowing the terrorist leader's whereabouts, and the U.S. has said it has no evidence senior Pakistani officials knew he was in Abbottabad.

But details leaked to the media from the interrogation of one of bin Laden's widows raised further questions about how he was able to live in the country unnoticed for so long.

Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada said the al Qaeda chief lived in five houses while on the run in Pakistan for nine years and fathered four children, two of whom were born in Pakistani government hospitals.

It's also possible that one of the reasons Pakistan kept bin Laden's family in detention for so long was the difficulty of figuring out where to send them. Two of the widows are from Saudi Arabia, and the third, al-Sada, is from Yemen.

Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994 because of his verbal attacks against the Saudi royal family, and there have been questions about whether the country would accept the women. Saudi officials have declined to comment.

Khalil told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they were scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia overnight. He originally said they were expected to leave around midnight.

It was unclear how long the delay would last, a Pakistani official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

It was unclear why al-Sada was not being sent to Yemen. Khalil said earlier that the Yemeni government had consented to her return, and Zakaria al-Sada had said the government had issued her five children passports.

The family's departure could help Pakistan close out a painful chapter in the country's history. Pakistani officials were outraged that the U.S. did not tell them about the operation against bin Laden until after it happened — a decision American officials explained by saying they were worried the information would be leaked.

In addition to facing difficult questions about how bin Laden was able to hide in the country for so long, Pakistan's army faced unusual domestic criticism because it was unable to stop the American raid from taking place.

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