Osama bin Laden was “cash-strapped” during his final days and his al-Qaeda terrorist group had divided into two factions, according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official.
According to the Associated Press, the unnamed Pakistani source said that Osama’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had taken over the larger faction, with Osama in charge of a smaller group.
The intelligence official made the comments to a small group of Pakistani journalists, two of whom spoke anonymously to AP.
However, the spy official didn’t explain how his agency had determined Osama’s financial condition or the new configuration of al-Qaeda.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pakistani official said Osama was marginalized by al-Zawahri.
They had parted ways some six years ago, he said.
However, US officials told the WSJ they doubted the story of the split.
Parted ways? I don't think so, one U.S. counterterrorism official told the newspaper. I have not seen anything like that [from our intelligence reports].”
Separately, another Pakistani intelligence operative said that one of Osama’s wives, a Yemeni woman, told him that she had been living in the Abbottabad compound for six years, but had never left the upstairs quarter of the house.
The Yemeni woman is reportedly one of three wives of the terror chief – all three are being interrogated by Pakistani officials. The government is also allegedly holding eight or nine children who were discovered at the compound. It is not clear if the children belonged to Osama or not.