Some fascinating reporting from Tim McGirk today on bin Laden’s fifth wife, who was living at the Abbotabad compound with her husband at the time of the raid that killed him. She is said to have been shot in the calf after rushing the Seals that burst into room where the al-Qaeda leader was holed up.
A few key points from the story: She’s now in Pakistani custody, recovering from the gunshot wound; U.S. intelligence officials are unlikely to get the chance to speak with her. After 9/11 when the Afghan campaign began, Pakistan’s government reportedly gave her haven and helped her return to Yemen. She later reentered Pakistan to join her husband, which, as McGirk writes, points out a potentially major intelligence lapse in hindsight: Why take years deciphering courier aliases when bin Laden’s wife could have led them right to him?
On top of that, there’s this detail of further alleged Pakistani duplicity, which will only further inflame tensions at a delicate moment:
Says [an] Arab woman formerly connected to al-Qaeda: “There was an understanding with the Pakistani army. We would get a tip-off that the army planned to raid one of our houses in the tribal area. We would flee but leave some ‘evidence’ behind so that the army could show to the Americans that we’d been there.”