Osama bin Laden’s son ‘killed in US drone strike’

Osama bin Laden’s third-oldest son is thought to have been killed in a CIA air strike in Pakistan after finding himself “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

According to a report on US National Public Radio, Sa’ad bin Laden had gone to Pakistan after spending a number of years under house arrest in Iran where he was part of a small group that helped manage the al-Qaeda network there.

A senior US counter-terrorism official told the station that intelligence agencies were “80 to 85 per cent certain” that Sa’ad was killed by a missile fired from a drone aircraft earlier this year, although no body had been recovered for DNA tests.

It is not clear whether his father was anywhere near the scene at the time of the attack.

The official said that Sa’ad, who was in his late 20s and was one of two dozen children fathered by the terror chief, was not considered important enough to be targeted himself but had been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“We make a big deal out of him because of his last name,” the official added.

Sa’ad bin Laden was nevertheless well known to Western intelligence agencies and is thought to have played a part in the 2002 bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia in which 19 people were killed. More recently he had been seen as a link in the murky marriage of convenience between al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime.

Earlier this year, the former US spy chief Mike McConnell said the younger Bin Laden had either escaped or was released from house arrest in Iran and was probably in Pakistan. At the same time, in the final weeks of the Bush Administration, the US Treasury Department froze the assets of Sa’ad bin Laden and three other Al-Qaeda operatives.

He was also alleged to have helped facilitate communication between Al-Qaeda’s No 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, following an al-Qaeda attack on the US embassy in Yemen in 2008.

In Pakistan, officials expressed scepticism at the report of Sa’ad’s death

“People get very excited over unconfirmed information claiming the possible death of a bin Laden,” one official told CBS News.

“At this point, unless proven otherwise, I am treating this news as no more than rubbish… There is no proof of Saad bin Laden’s death. Let’s not forget, such claims have been made before.”

A defence official in Islamabad echoed that view, saying that the killing “could not have gone so unnoticed”.

“The bin Laden name matters a lot to all of us.”

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3 Responses

  1. btw since start of this year… pak army n US army agreed on operating drones operations jointly. Pak army can also be apart of this operation.

  2. Hmmm

  3. Its a news coverage.

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