This is the first time ever that Amal – wife of 9/11 mastermind and al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden – has spoken about what exactly happened when the US military shot Osama down.
Osama’s fourth and youngest wife Amal bin Laden, who was at the top of the US’s most wanted list for over a decade, recalls the story of the night he died on May 11, 2011. Amal along with her six children lived in their ‘safe house’ in the mountains of Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Amal bin Laden told the story of the night to Cathy Scott-Clarke and Adrian Levy for their book The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden.
Along with Amal and her six kids, was bin Laden’s second wife Khairiah and third wife Seham along with son Khalid, 22. His first wife Najwa, who had married him as a teen and bore him 11 children, left him two days before the 9/11 attacks.
It was 11 pm, when after dinner and prayer, bin Laden was fast asleep with Amal lying next to him. Due to the shortage of electricity, the streets were dark. Shortage of electricity was common but Amal woke up past midnight.
She heard a ‘chop chop chop’ sound and saw some shadows on the windows. Bin Laden, frightened and panting, sat up. He said, “Americans are coming.” There was a loud noise. Laden and Amal gripped each other and somehow made way to the balcony. Amal, while narrating the story, said, “It was a moonless night so it was difficult to see. There were two US military Black Hawks and 24 SEALS were rushing over the lawn and towards the compound.”
Bin Laden asked his son Khalid to come to him. Khalid, in his pyjamas, grabbed an AK-47, which he hadn’t fired since he was 13.
Amal and Seham comforted their children who kept crying. They all went to the top floor. They heard the noise of the blast, which blew off the gate of the house. Bin Laden, asking his family to go downstairs, said, “They want me, not you.” But his oldest daughters Miriam and Sumaiya kept hiding on the balcony while Seham and Khalid went downstairs.
Bin Laden along with Amal and their young son Hussein stayed in the room and prayed. Amal realised that someone within their inner circle had ‘betrayed’ them. The SEALs, who were in the hallway, blasted a locked door before moving upstairs.
One of the members of the force, who spoke Arabic and knew how Khalid looked like, called him. Just when Khalid glanced over the balcony, he was shot down.
SEAL Robert O’ Neill entered bin Laden’s room, where Amal was in front of her husband. As she rushed O’ Neill, bin Laden was shot by someone as other SEALs entered the room. Amal, who was in excruciating emotional pain, collapsed onto the bed and passed out.
More SEALs entered the room and fired rounds into bin Laden. Amal was awake but had to pretend to play dead. She shut her eyes and tried to slow her breathing.
A SEAL, who threw water on his face, grabbed Hussein, who had witnessed the entire incident. Amal remained motionless. The forces grabbed Miram and Sumaiya and held them over their father’s body and demanded them to make an identification.
At first, Miriam told a fake name but Sumaiya told her, “Tell them the truth. They aren’t Pakistanis.” “My father, Osama bin Laden,” said Miriam. Safiyah, who too was grabbed from the balcony, was asked to make an identification. Crying hysterically, Safiyah confessed that it was her father.
A SEAL also grabbed Khairiah, who was in the hallway. The SEAL yelled, Stop f***ing with me. Who’s that?” “Osama, said Khairiah.
Once the identification was over, the Arabic-speaking SEAL said, “Her dual confirmation. Confirmed it with the kid. Confirmed it with the old lady.” The forces then dragged bin Laden down the staircase, leaving his head to bump along them.
Khalid was dead on the staircase. When his mother tried to kiss him, the forces pulled her away. The forces put bin Laden’s body in a helicopter. Amal clutched her trembling son Hussein and listened to the American military men blow up the remaining Black Hawk.
After a few minutes, she heard her neighbour’s screams as they asked who was still alive.