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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 23:55 GMT
Tale of Bin Laden's 'lonely' wife
One of Osama Bin Laden's wives has provided a new insight into his personal life - including his habit of coming home late and getting angry if she tried to talk to him.
The revelations come in an interview given to the London-based Arabic-language weekly Al-Majallah by the woman, identified only as "A.S."
Al-Majallah says it took several months to track down Mrs Bin Laden and get her agreement to the interview, on the strict condition that her location be kept secret.
Osama Bin Laden classified the United States as his "number one enemy" and said he had a "big plan" to confront it.
His wife says "he used sometimes to come home late at night and lie down alone on his bed for long hours".
"He did not like anybody to talk to him. He became angry if I tried to talk to him and I would therefore leave him alone," she continues.
"He used to sit and think for a long time and sleep very late. He did not sleep for more than two or three hours at a time. Though he was beside me, I sometimes felt lonely.
Mrs Bin Laden says her husband would visit once a week, taking it in turn to see his different wives.
"Each wife lived in her own house. There were two wives in Kandahar, each with her own house. The third wife had a house in Kabul, and the fourth in the Tora Bora Mountains. He used to come to me once a week. His wives met only once every month or two when he came to us or sent one of his sons to take us to one of the others' houses."
He later came once every two or three weeks "and said he was busy, had some problems, and was in constant meetings with Mullah Omar and the Taleban leaders. When he wanted to travel, he did not tell anybody, in contrast to the past when he used to take one of us with him".
"He told me once he was very worried and feared that the Taleban men might turn against him and seek to get rid of him and that the United States might pay one of them money to get rid of him.
Mrs Bin Laden says her husband never mentioned any plan to attack the United States. "He did not talk about this at all. He used to talk about America's hegemony and its cooperation with Israel. He always told me that he had a big plan and that he had dedicated himself to confronting them.
"He used to tell me that the United States was humiliating the Arabs and that he had a large group of young mujahideen who hated the United States and were willing to fight against it."
"I heard him say more than once that the United States is his number one enemy ... that it is pursuing him, trying to kill him."
She says her husband was unwilling to discuss issues such as the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
"He did not like to talk to me about these issues. He was angry with me once when I tried to ask him and told me not to discuss these matters with him ever again."
However, he was willing to discuss his construction companies. "He always spoke about his companies that were involved in building and road works with a large group of charities that were helping the poor and needy among the Afghan people. He was helping the Taleban build Afghanistan."
She says she last saw Bin Laden "before the September events. He came to the house, gave me a telephone, and told me to call my family and tell them we were going somewhere else and that there would be no news of me for a long time."
"Several days later, we heard about the explosions in the United States and that it had declared war on Osama and the Taleban."
They moved around and spent some time in the mountains in southern Afghanistan before going to Pakistan. She had not heard from him since.
Mrs Bin Laden says she is sure he has not been killed. "I feel deep inside me that he is still alive." And probably still in Afghanistan. "He never spoke to me about his intention to leave Afghanistan and always wished to die there. He told me once that if he ever left Afghanistan, it would be to meet his Creator."
She says he liked hunting. "He used to hunt with a group of friends on Fridays."
Of her sons with Bin Laden, she says: "I will teach them righteousness and the divine path. I am not worried about them because we accept what is written and fated by God Almighty."
When the Taleban banned all but religious schools, her children "had private tutors who taught them the English and Arabic languages, mathematics, and sciences. They also trained them to use the computer."
Bin Laden "always suffered from kidney and stomach pains. He told me once that he was going to Pakistan for treatment".
"Osama liked bread, yoghurt, honey, and dates. He rarely eats meat," she added
BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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