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Pakistani Panel Seeks To Prevent Bin Laden Family From Leaving

A roadside vendor sells newspapers with headlines about the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Lahore on May 3.

A roadside vendor sells newspapers with headlines about the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Lahore on May 3.

A Pakistani panel set up to investigate the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden has told the Pakistani authorities not to repatriate the dead Al-Qaeda leader's family members without its permission.

The commission's instruction -- issued late on July 5 -- was directed at the Interior Ministry and Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's media reported.

Three of bin Laden's wives -- including his youngest spouse, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah -- and at least six children have been in the Pakistani authorities' custody since the terror network leader was killed in the town of Abbottabad on May 2.

It remains to be seen whether the country's powerful intelligence service will obey the panel's instruction. Shortly after the U.S. raid, Pakistani authorities said they were planning to send bin Laden's relatives back to their countries of origin.

Two of his widows are believed to be from Saudi Arabia, while the 29-year-old Sadah is a Yemeni citizen.

There were reports at the end of June that Sadah would leave Pakistan "within days." According to Yemeni and Saudi media, arrangements for Sadah and her young daughter's return to her homeland have been finalized between Yemeni and Pakistani officials.

Sadah reportedly was injured during the raid and received medical treatment in Pakistan.

Investigating U.S. Raid

The four-member panel, led by Supreme Court Judge Justice Javed Iqbal, held its first meeting on July 5 behind closed doors.

Among other things, the commission has been investigating how the world's most-wanted terrorist had managed to hide in Abbottabad, home to a top Pakistani military academy. It will also look into circumstances surrounding the U.S. commando raid to kill bin Laden.

In a press-release issued late on July 5, the commission said its task was to "ascertain full facts regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; investigate circumstances and facts regarding the U.S. operation in Abbottabad; determine the nature, background, and causes of lapses, if any, of the authorities concerned; and to make consequential recommendations."

The raid carried out by U.S. commandos in Abbottabad without Pakistani authorities' knowledge has angered Islamabad, which described it a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

At the same time, bin Laden's discovery in Abbottabad has raised suspicions in the United States that some elements inside Pakistan's military or intelligence must have aided the Al-Qaeda leader to find a hideout in their country.

U.S. officials, however, have said they have seen no evidence that Pakistan's top civilian or military leaders were aware of bin Laden's whereabouts.

The Pakistani commission pledged a thorough investigation, and said it would summon senior civil, military, and political leaders to attend its proceeding, if necessary. Their identities will be kept confidential, the panel added in its statement.

compiled from agency reports