US gets access to bin Laden wives

PAKISTAN has let US intelligence agents interview Osama bin Laden’s wives, as they probe how the al-Qaeda leader managed to hide for years in a city close to Islamabad.

“The United States Government has gained access to Osama bin Laden’s wives held by Pakistan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said today, without offering further details.

Earlier, CNN quoted US and Pakistani sources as saying that US intelligence services had interrogated three of the widows of the terrorist mastermind, shot dead in a US special forces raid in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2.

The women were reportedly interviewed as a group, despite US wishes to interview them separately, and were openly “hostile” to US officials interviewing them, said CNN, quoting a Pakistani government official and two US officials close to matter.

The eldest of the wives spoke for all them in the interview, which was also attended by members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Members of both governments told CNN that despite the uptick in tensions between the two anti-terror allies, in the wake of the US commando raid that killed bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, intelligence sharing has continued.

The White House had called on Islamabad to help counter growing mistrust by granting US investigators access to the three, who have been in Pakistani custody. It is thought the women could have vital information on the al-Qaeda network and bin Laden’s involvement — from his hide-out — in their operations.

The United States has demanded an investigation as to how the al-Qaeda chief could have lived for years in the garrison city less than a mile from a top military academy and only 56 kilometres from Islamabad.

Pakistan officials have slammed the raid but adamantly denied sheltering the man believed to have masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed some 3000 people.

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