The XX Factor

More on the Women Inside Bin Laden’s Compound

On The New Yorker ‘s news blog, the magazine’s Steve Col l has a rundown on more details behind the Osama Bin Laden story, including some speculation on who the women inside the compound may have been. Coll says reports indicate Bin Laden was living with his fourth wife, “a kind of mail-order teen bride from Yemen whom he married while living in Afghanistan during the nineteen-nineties.”

When I visited Yemen in 2007, to conduct research on the bin Laden family, Yemeni journalists told me that his youngest wife had returned home and was living in the region either of Tai’zz or Ibb, significant cities to the south of Sanaa, the capital. It seems that she may have found her way to Pakistan to live with her husband. My own guess had been that bin Laden would have accepted informal divorce from his older wives on grounds of involuntary separation, and would have remarried a local woman or two while in hiding in Pakistan, perhaps a daughter presented by one of his Pathan hosts.