Mistrust between Osama 3 wives: Qadir

New York: It seems all was not well in Osama bin Laden`s safe house in Pakistan towards the end.

At least that is what the account of a retired Pakistani army Brigadier tends to suggest as he talks about "poisonous mistrust" between Osama`s three wives with one been accused of betraying him to US intelligence.

Osama used to stay on the top floor of his Abbotabad safe house in Pakistan, sharing his bedroom with his favourite and youngest wife. The trouble began when his eldest wife showed up and moved into the bedroom on the floor below. The mistrust grew so much that one of bin Laden`s older wife pointing fingers at his "favoured wife" for betraying him.

Seeking to find out the truth about bin Laden`s years in Pakistan, retired Pakistani brigadier Shaukat Qadir retraced the last few days of the world`s most wanted terrorist revisiting bin laden`s house in Abbottabad. "As a former soldier, I was struck by how badly the house was defended," Qadir said in the New York Times.

"No proper security measures, nothing high-tech in fact, nothing like you would expect". Qadir claims that bin Laden`s fifth and youngest wife Amal Ahmed al-Sadah told Pakistani interrogators that her husband underwent a kidney transplant operation in 2002.

He said he had also heard of poisonous mistrust between bin Laden`s wives. "In the cramped Abbottabad house…tensions erupted between Sadah, described as `the favored wife` and Khairiah Saber, an older woman who occupied a separate floor," Qadir said in the New York Times report.

In interrogation, Sadah accused her rival of having betrayed their husband to American intelligence.

Bin Laden`s youngest wife also told interrogators that her husband shaved his beard and disguised himself as an ailing Pashtun elder as he leapfrogged between safe houses across northwestern Pakistan, eventually regrowing the beard after finally settling in the Abbottabad house in 2005.

Qadir`s investigation "offers tantalizing possibilities about bin Laden`s circumstances and the suspicions that drove relations between Pakistan and US to the brink," the NYT said.

The former army official`s probe lasted eight months and took him into the tribal belt and Afghanistan to interview old tribal contacts. He says he also spoke with officials Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.

A former Obama administration official who read Qadir`s report has agreed with some of his findings, like a claim that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, suffered serious disagreements that led to Bin Laden`s being pushed to the sidelines.

The official however was puzzled by the account about bin Laden`s wives, citing previous American intelligence reports that had indicated that the first wife Saber was the closest to him.

Saber proved to be "defiant, difficult and refused to engage," with the CIA, which has interrogated bin laden`s wives, the American official said.

American experts feel several of the conclusions that Qadir draws in his report are highly contentious, like a belief that Qaeda operatives betrayed their leader to earn America`s reward money.

"They wanted Bin Laden gone, and they wanted a share of the $25 million," Qadir said. This claim has been rejected by Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst who called it a "ridiculous" notion.

Qadir`s report was "larded with strange conspiracies", Bergen said, adding that it was indicative of a broader culture of conspiracy theories in Pakistan.

Qadir agrees that his conclusions are based on conjecture, and admits that his ISI briefers may have concealed crucial facts. "I`d be a bloody fool if I didn`t see that…I don`t say this is the entire truth. But it`s the closest you will get at this point in time", he said.