Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden worried that Al Qaeda was overextending itself and undermining its goals by harming Muslim civilians. Reuters

Pakistan has charged Osama bin Laden's three widows with illegally entering and living in the country.

Interior minister Malik Rehman said the three women have already been charged in court but failed to provide further details.

The women, two Saudis and a Yemeni, were arrested and detained in Pakistan following the US Navy Seals raid that led to the death of former al-Qaeda chief Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year.

They had been living with the terrorist and their children in a compound for about five years.

Rehman said the children were free to leave Pakistan, but could also decide to remain in the country for the duration of the trial.

Hashmat Habib, a Pakistani legal expert contacted by AP, said the women could receive a maximum sentence of five years.

Tensions between Pakistan and the US escalated following the raid.

US authorities had kept the operation a secret and did not warn Pakistan, a move that angered Islamabad.

Washington also questioned Pakistan's claims that the authorities were unaware of Bin Laden's presence in the territory.

A government commission is investigating the affair and has interrogated the three women.

Last month Pakistan destroyed the compound where Bin laden was found in an effort to prevent it from becoming a shrine for his followers.