Pakistan Has Bin Laden's Wife and Daughters in Custody

The survivors of the raid in Abbottabad won't be handed over to the U.S.

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One thing U.S. forces couldn't do in their in-and-out mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Ladin was to take a lot of prisoners. Or any, for that matter, even though several members of Bin Laden's family survived the raid on his Abbottabad compound. Now, Pakistan says it has taken into custody 10 members of the Bin Laden clan, including one of his wives and up to eight of his children, and it won't hand them over to the United States.

The original goal of the raid was to capture the family as well as the patriarch, but when one helicopter crash-landed in the compound, there wasn't enough room on board the rest to fly the prisoners out. The unnamed Pakistani intelligence official, "said one of Osama bin Laden's daughters had seen her father being shot dead by U.S. forces," Reuters reports. "The relatives -- one of bin Laden's wives and up to eight children -- will be interrogated and then probably turned over to their countries of origin, and not the United States, in accordance with Pakistani law, he said." It was not reported what those countries were.

That news comes as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari defended his country's inaction in the killing of Bin Laden. "Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama Bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world," Ali Zardari wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

"For years, Pakistan had said it did not know Bin Laden’s whereabouts, vowing that if Washington had actionable intelligence, its military and security agencies would act," Al Arabiya pointed out, but in the end, it didn't get the chance. In a statement, the Pakistani government said it had been monitoring the area around the compound, and it expressed "concern" about the way the raid was carried out.

Abbottabad and the surrounding areas have been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003 resulting in highly technical operation by ISI, which led to the arrest of high value Al Qaeda target in 2004. As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009....

Notwithstanding the above, the Government of Pakistan expresses its deep concerns and reservations on the manner in which the Government of the United States carried out this operation without prior information or authorization from the Government of Pakistan.

The unnamed Pakistani official who today confirmed to Reuters the capture of Bin Laden's family members also acknowledged the hit to the country's image that came with Bin Laden's unchallenged presence there. "It looks bad," he said. "It makes us look like a fool or an idiot. It's pretty embarrassing."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.