The US raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is also thought to have resulted in the death of his son, US officials said during a White House press briefing today.
Khalid bin Laden, one of Osama’s younger sons, was reported to be among those killed yesterday during the daring raid by US Navy SEALs and CIA operatives on a fortified mansion in an upscale area of Abbottabad in Pakistan. Osama’s wife, Amal al Ahmed Sadah, was wounded during the raid. Also, two of bin Laden’s couriers, who have not been named, are also reported to have been killed during the raid.
Khalid bin Laden has stayed out of the limelight, unlike some of his other brothers who have taken a leadership role in al Qaeda. In January 2010, Khalid released a letter accusing Iran of imprisoning more than 30 of his family members. Khalid claimed they were “beaten and repressed.” Iran released bin Laden’s family in the summer of 2010.
There has been confusion over whether Khalid, or his younger brother Hamza, was killed in the raid. White House Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan initially reported, on May 2, that Hamza was killed, but this was later determined to be “a clerical error” and Khalid was named as the dead son.
It is unclear if Hamza was at the house, and if he was, what became of him. The Wall Street Journal reports that a Pakistani intelligence official said bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter told them that the Americans took two people when they left, including bin Laden. Similarly, according to Dawn, the US team took away bin Laden’s body and another person, “possibly one of his sons.” Another news source, al Arabiya, states that the US team “took two bodies with them in the military chopper; one is said to be Bin Laden’s and the other his son’s.”
Amal al Ahmed Sadah is Osama’s fourth wife. They were married in the late 1990s in Afghanistan when she was 17 years old. Sadah is from Yemen, and she is thought to have gone back to her home country sometime after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, according to The New Yorker. It is unclear when Sadah returned to South Asia to be at Osama’s side.
Sadah was reported to have been wounded during the raid, a White House official said. Brennan had initially claimed she was killed while “she was being used as a shield,” but the White House official later said that account was inaccurate. Another woman apparently was used as a human shield during the operation.
The raid that killed Osama and Khalid took place just 30 miles north of Islamabad at a heavily fortified compound that was locally known as the “Waziristan Mansion,” according to the BBC, as it was owned by Pashtun tribesmen from the Waziristan tribal agencies. Many of the top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are based in North and South Waziristan.
Unnamed intelligence officials told Gulf News that Osama’s $1 million compound may have served as a safe house for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The compound is said to be owned by “Afghan nationals” and “is located just 800 metres away from the Pakistan Military Academy and some former senior military officials live nearby.”
Osama’s compound is “eight times the size of any other structure in the neighborhood,” a senior US intelligence official said last night at a White House briefing.
“The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary,” the official continued. “It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections — internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection. ”
For more information on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the likelihood that Pakistani military and intelligence officials aided in sheltering the al Qaeda leader, see LWJ report, Al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden confirmed killed by US forces in Pakistan, and Threat Matrix report, Pakistani complicity in sheltering Osama bin Laden is evident.
Corrections: The White House initially reported Hamza, and not Khalid, was killed during the raid; it was later determined that Khalid was killed. Amal al Ahmed Sadah, Osama bin Laden’s wife, was wounded, and not killed as initially reported. This article has been updated to reflect the changes.