US Says It Wants Access To Bin Laden Widows - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

US Says It Wants Access To Bin Laden Widows

ISLAMABAD — The United States wants access to Osama bin Laden's three widows and any intelligence material its commandos left behind at the al-Qaida leader's compound, a top American official said in comments broadcast Sunday that could add a fresh sticking point in already frayed ties with Pakistan.

Information from the women, who remained in the house after the commandos killed bin Laden, might answer questions about whether Pakistan harbored the al-Qaida chief as many American officials are speculating. It could also reveal details about the day-to-day life of bin Laden, his actions since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the inner workings of al-Qaida.

The women, along with several children also picked up from the house, are believed to be in Pakistani army custody. A Pakistani army official declined to comment Sunday on the request, U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The CIA and Pakistan's spy agency, known by the acronym ISI, have worked uneasily together in the past on counterterrorism, but the unilateral U.S. raid — done without Pakistan's advance knowledge — has exposed the deep mistrust that scars a complicated if vital partnership for both nations.

Earlier Sunday, witnesses said two loud explosions have rocked Abbottabad. The source of the blasts was not immediately clear. NBC News producer Carol Grisanti in Islamabad said the blast was not related to bin Laden. There had been speculation that authorities might demolish the compound try to stop the intense media attention on the town.

Widows could be leverage
Even before the May 1 raid, the ISI said it was cutting cooperation with CIA to protest drone strikes close to the Afghan border, among other things. In the current environment, Pakistan could use the fact it has something Washington wants — bin Laden's widows — as leverage to reduce some of the pressure it is under.

Bin Laden was found in a large house close to a military academy in the army town of Abbottabad where he had been living for up to six years. His location raised U.S. suspicions that he had help from some Pakistani authorities, possibly elements of the powerful army and intelligence services.

Donilon said Washington had seen no evidence that the Pakistani government had been colluding with bin Laden — the public line taken by most U.S. officials since the raid, including President Barack Obama in comments also broadcast Sunday.

"But they need to investigate that," Donilon said. "And they need to provide us with intelligence, by the way, from the compound that they've gathered, including access to Osama bin Laden's three wives, whom they have in ... custody."

Donilon also said Pakistani authorities had collected other evidence from the house which the United States wanted to "work with them on assessing." U.S. commandos managed to seize a large and valuable intelligence haul that included videos, telephone numbers and documents, along with the body of bin Laden, before flying back to Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials. Click here to read more

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