Hamza Bin Laden, (dubbed) ‘Crown prince of terror,’ may have ‘escaped’ after US raid in Pakistan
Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza may have escaped after the raid according to a report published in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
The Al Qaeda leader was killed in raid by US Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1. The White House initially said that his youngest son Hamza was killed but subsequently said it was his 22-year-old son Khalid that died in the raid. Bin laden reportedly had 11 sons and 9 daughters from at least five wives.
Pakistani security officials received this information from its interrogations with Bin Laden’s wives, three of whom are in Pakistani custody. They are said to have told them that “one son has not been seen since the operation,” according to the Telegraph.
This disclosure raises the possibility that the Al Qaeda founder’s youngest son may have escaped capture. It also leads to confusion about who was killed and captured during the raid.
An intelligence source in Islamabad told the Telegraph on Tuesday that their investigations, coupled with the widows’ testimony, “left them unable to account for one person who they believe had been living at the house.”
According to various news sources, Bin Laden is said to have 20 children.
The 20-year-old Hamza was once described as the “crown prince of terror.”
On the third anniversary of the July 7 London bombings in which 52 people died, Hamza appeared on a video and read a poem which called for “destruction” of western nations.
“Intelligence agencies believe he was being groomed as a possible future leader on Al Qaeda,” writes the Telegraph.
Pakistan on Tuesday said it was willing to let US investigators interrogate Bin Laden’s wives but added that no formal request had been received.
The New York Times adds:
Bin Laden’s widows have been identified as Um Hamza, or Mother of Hamza, whose real name is Khairiah Sabar, and is from Jidda in Saudi Arabia; Um Khalid, or Mother of Khalid, whose name is Siham, and is from Medina in Saudi Arabia; and the youngest, a Yemeni, Amal al-Saddah, 29. Her passport names her as Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah.
Bin Laden’s daughter with Ms. Saddah, Safia, who is 12 or 13 years old, is also reported to have been present and even to have witnessed the shooting of her father. Officials have also said that there is a 5-year-old son of Bin Laden and that four of the children are his grandchildren by a daughter killed in an airstrike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
One of his sons was killed in the raid, but reports have named him variously as Hamza or Khalid, both of whom were born in the same year from different wives and would be 22 years old.
Bin Laden has been married five times, according to a book, “Growing Up bin Laden,” written by his fourth son, Omar bin Laden, in collaboration with the American author Jean Sasson and his mother, Najwa bin Laden, Bin Laden’s first wife and cousin.
In answers to e-mailed questions forwarded by Ms. Sasson, Omar bin Laden said his father kept his wives, and often his children, sequestered in the house.
His mother, Najwa, would sneak into the garden when Osama bin Laden was away, warning the children not to tell their father she had dared step outside the house. The children, too, rarely were permitted to go outside. Omar bin Laden said his saddest memories were of being locked in their home in Jidda and staring out at all the other children who were allowed to play.
Najwa and Omar had long wondered whether Osama bin Laden’s two Saudi wives were with him in hiding, and only from reports of the American assault undertaken by a Navy Seals team did they learn that they were. Omar said he was sad that his half-brother Khalid was killed in the raid, though he said he had little in common with Khalid and had seen him rarely.