Women played an interesting role in the account of the final hours of Osama Bin Laden’s life. Three wives, as well as nine of his children, lived in the compound where he was killed, along with the families of two Pakistani brothers. Initially, it was erroneously reported that Bin Laden had used one of his wives as a human shield. However, as we began to learn more about the compound in Abbottabad and the events that made it so famous, one of the most discussed members of Bin Laden’s family quickly became Amal Ahmed al-Sadah. In spite of the considerable number of people living in the compound, Bin Laden’s youngest wife has garnered a huge amount of attention.
A bride at the age of 17, Sadah moved to Afghanistan, and then to Pakistan with her new husband. While some articles speak of her being “gifted” to Bin Laden, this is contradicted by other reports that she “dutifully accepted” the proposal arranged by an aide of Bin Laden in Yemen. While Sadah’s family recently provided some details of her life with Bin Laden, they have not seen her since her marriage in 2000, so there is still very little concrete information about the realities of her life in the compound.
According to Sadah, she “never left” the upper floors of the three-storey compound during the five years that she was there. But it is difficult to know whether or not this was a result of Bin Laden’s extreme religious views or of life on the run, much like testimony from the wives of other well-known terrorists.