Sa’ad bin Laden.
Pakistani terrorists with close links to al Qaeda denied that Osama bin Laden’s son was killed in a US airstrike earlier this year.
“Taliban and Punjabi militant commanders” who are in “close association with Arabs” told The News that while the US air campaign has hit the terror network hard, Osama’s son Sa’ad bin Laden was neither killed nor wounded during strikes this year. The commanders did not disclose their names.
“There is no doubt that we lost some of our well-trained and senior people in the US drone attacks in tribal areas, but I can say for sure that Sheikh Osama and his family members were never hurt in any of these strikes,” one Pakistani Taliban commander said.
“Had Sa’ad or anybody else of his family been injured or killed anywhere in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at least we would have been aware of that,” a Punjabi extremist leader told the news agency. The Punjabi commander said he is responsible for looking after wounded Arab fighters, and said his friends had recently met with Sa’ad.
“If they [the US] were true in their claim, they should provide accurate information when and where they killed Sa’ad,” the Punjabi commander continued.
The jihadi commanders said Sa’ad was not a senior leader in al Qaeda, but then went on to say he is leading al Qaeda fighters in battle in Afghanistan.
US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on July 22 that it was highly likely that Sa’ad was killed in a strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas earlier this year. The officials would not disclose the location or the date of Sa’ad’s death, and they did not indicate they were in possession of his remains.
Speculation regarding the possibility that Sa’ad is dead appears to be driven by communications intercepts and rumors from Pakistan’s tribal areas. CBS News reported that Sa’ad has not been heard from in months.
“Intelligence information suggests Saad bin Laden has not been in communication with anyone for a few months now,” a Western diplomat told CBS News.
But the Pakistani jihadi commanders claimed that bin Laden and his inner circle do not use communications equipment and are careful to mask where they are staying.
Al Qaeda has neither confirmed nor denied Sa’ad’s death. Al Qaeda typically issues a martyrdom statement for senior leaders and commanders who have been killed in battle.
Background on Sa’ad bin Laden
Despite reports to the contrary, Sa’ad is considered a senior leader in al Qaeda. Sa’ad is considered to be the heir to Osama, has been involved in major terrorist attacks, and is a military commander in al Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army.
He is an operational commander who was involved in the 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as other attacks. He is known to shelter in Iran and move back and forth across the border with Pakistan.
He is reported to have facilitated communications between Ayman al Zawahiri and Qods Force, the notorious special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, in September 2008 after the deadly attack on the US embassy in Yemen.
Sa’ad made “key decisions for al Qaeda and was part of a small group of al Qaeda members that was involved in managing the terrorist organization from Iran,” according to the US Treasury report that designated him as a terrorist on Jan. 16, 2009. “As of September 2008, it was possible that Sa’ad bin Laden was no longer in Iranian custody,” the Treasury reported.
Sa’ad is believed to have entered Pakistan’s northwest to meet with Zawahiri in Pakistan sometime in August or early September 2008, according to Mike McConnell, the outgoing Director of National Intelligence.
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