On Thursday Pakistan announced it would charge Osama bin Laden's three widows with with entering the country illegally, but from a new report by a retired Pakistani general, it sounds like they were already in a sort of prison living with their late husband. The women shared the three-story house with 25 other people, including Bin Laden, his children, grandchildren, and the family of his courier. It was a "crowded place," the Associated Press reported, and conflict ran high.
Two of the wives feared the eldest would betray the family out of her irritation that Bin Laden favored his youngest wife, a 19-year-old Yemeni woman with whom he shared a bedroom. The youngest wife, Ahmed al-Sadah, told investigators the eldest wife, Khairiah Saber, had in fact turned the family in, according to The New York Times, even though the AP notes that "There is no evidence Khairiah [al-Sadah] had any role in bin Laden's end." Bin Laden's son also reportedly suspected Al Sadah, contributing to the atmosphere of "poisonous mistrust" The Times described.
The three women have been in custody since the raid on Bin Laden's compound last May, the AP reported, but a legal expert it interviewed suggested the decision to charge them formally could be part of the process toward letting them leave Pakistan, as their children have been allowed to do already. From the sound of life inside the compound, both options seem like an improvement.