ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Former Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden entered Pakistan across the Afghan border during the early months of U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, then spent nine years on the run in Pakistan living in several safe houses and fathering four children.
Testimony from bin Laden's youngest wife -- the 29-year-old Yemenite Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah -- before a joint investigation team in Pakistan reveals the Al Qaeda kingpin fled over the border into Pakistan early in 2002, just after the U.S. launched attacks on Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan.
In the testimony -- first cited Thursday by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn -- Abdulfattah told investigators that she married bin Laden in 2000 because she wanted to marry a mujahid, or holy warrior.
Her account of bin Laden's movements in the nine years leading up to his death in May 2011 raises further questions about what exactly Pakistani authorities knew.
It also threatens to further strain relations between Pakistan and the U.S., just days after U.S. military commanders held high-level meetings with their Pakistani counterparts in an attempt to repair ruptured relations between the two nations.
Abdulfattah said the family separated and fled from its base in Kandahar following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. She traveled to Karachi, and was eventually reunited with bin Laden in Peshawar in 2002.
During her testimony, Adbdulfattah said the family's movements and accommodation in Pakistan were organized by "some Pakistani families" and Saad, one of bin Laden's sons.
After the family was reunited in Peshawar they traveled to the Swat Valley, close to the Afghan-Pakistani border, where they lived for eight or nine months.
After that the family moved to Haripur for two years, and later to Abbottabad. They stayed in Abbottabad for almost six years, until U.S. Navy SEALS raided bin Laden's home there in May 2011.
Abdulfattah was shot in the leg during the successful unilateral U.S. operation, but survived. Bin Laden's son Khalil, 20, was among four people killed in the raid.
Abdulfattah gave birth to four children by bin Laden while in Pakistan -- two in a government hospital in Haripur and two further children in Abbottabad.
She is now being held by Pakistani authorities in a house in Islamabad alongside two of bin Laden's other wives.
The widows, and two of bin Laden's daughters -- Maryam, 21, and Sumaya, 20 -- are expected to be charged Monday with breaking Pakistan's immigration laws. The offense carries a possible five-year jail sentence.
An editorial published in the Dawn newspaper Friday said Abdulfattah's testimony should force Pakistan to "take a long, hard look at its record against terrorism."
"For nine years the world's most wanted terrorist survived in the country after fleeing the U.S. attack on Tora Bora [in December, 2001]," it said.
"What is clear is that the judicial commission looking into his presence and the raid in Abbottabad can no longer limit its probe to those topics. In light of this investigation report, the commission now needs to expand its focus to encompass bin Laden's presence in the country since 2002," it added.