May 9, 2011 / 2:09 PM / 9 years ago

Children in bin Laden house had home school to guard secret

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - About 16 children who were living with Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout were carefully watched by the al Qaeda leader, forced to study at home and rarely ventured out of the fortress-like compound.

U.S. Special forces killed bin Laden in a raid on his compound in the town of Abbottabad, 50 km (30 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad, on May 2.

Pakistani investigators searching the buildings after the raid found a room equipped with a drawing board that served as a home school for the children.

“The kids weren’t allowed to go to nearby schools to avoid being traced,” said a Pakistani security official.

“They were very protective, very secretive about the children ... As you can imagine, the children may have blurted something out,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The world’s most wanted man spent nearly 10 years in hiding after orchestrating the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, until U.S. agents finally tracked him down.

Among the people that Pakistani authorities detained after the raid were three of bin Laden’s wives, a Yemeni and two Saudi Arabians.

The two Saudi women were highly educated, with one of them holding a doctorate in Islamic law, and it was they who taught the children, the Pakistani investigators said.

Among the children, were four of bin Laden’s grandchildren, they said. It was not believed that all of the other children were bin Laden’s, they said.

One of bin Laden’s adult sons was killed in the U.S. raid along with two other men.

Neighbors on the edge of Abbottabad where the compound was located were shocked to learn that bin Laden had been living among them but some said his presence explained the strange behavior of the residents of the compound.

The children never ventured out alone to play with the neighborhood children and were only occasionally seen walking to nearby shops, but always with an adult, neighbors said.

Pakistani security officials said bin Laden’s wives and the children will be deported back to their countries after an investigation is finished.

Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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