WASHINGTON — One of Osama bin Laden's wives acted as a human shield in an unsuccessful bid to save the Al-Qaeda leader's life before he was killed in a raid by US special forces, a top US official said Monday.
"There was family at that compound, and there was a female who was, in fact, in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin Laden from the incoming fire," counter-terrorism official John Brennan said.
Pressed on reports the woman shot dead by Navy SEALs during a firefight at a compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan was one of bin Laden's four wives, Brennan told a White House briefing: "That's my understanding."
Brennan said it was not entirely clear "whether or not bin Laden or the son or whatever put her there or she put herself there" or whether the Al-Qaeda chief himself fired rounds during the exchange.
"From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden who has been calling for attacks, living in this million dollar plus compound, living in an area that's far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield," he said.
"I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years, and so again looking at what bin Laden was doing, hiding there while he's putting other people out there to carry out attacks, again, just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was."
In addition to the woman, Bin Laden was killed by a bullet to the head and senior US officials said two brothers believed to be his couriers and one of the Al-Qaeda chief's adult sons also perished in the raid.