Death of Osama's son: Taliban dismisses US claims


Reacting to US media reports that Saad bin Laden may have been killed, senior Taliban commanders told the local media that for the last three years there had been no fatalities among the Al-Qaeda top brass in US drone attacks and only members of fraternal militant groupings had fallen prey to these strikes.

Admitting that some "well-trained and senior people" were killed in the attacks by predator drones in Pakistan's tribal belt, but bin Laden and members of his family were not even hurt in any of these strikes.

This is the first time that Taliban commanders have spoken about Al-Qaeda as normally they do not make any reference to the group or its leader Bin Laden, who is the world's most wanted man.

Two senior Afghan Taliban commanders, who spoke to The News daily on condition of anonymity, said they had "never heard about the loss of Saad bin Laden".

They said Saad was not even a senior Al-Qaeda member nor involved in any major operations but was important only because he was Bin Laden's son.

The US-based National Public Radio had reported that American officials believed Saad was killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator drone sometime this year.

An unnamed senior US counter-terrorism official told NPR that it was hard to be completely sure about Saad's death without a body but US spy agencies were "80 to 85 per cent" certain that he was dead.

The Taliban commanders said Arab nationals and key Al Qaida members never stayed together and often spent the nights underground or in caves.

They also said Al Qaida had not lost any important leaders since the killing of senior commanders Abu Laith al-Libi and Abu Khabab al-Misri in drone attacks in Waziristan.
Al Qaida commanders were often "less accessible" even to top Afghan and Pakistani Taliban commanders, they said.

A senior Taliban commander from Pakistan's Punjab province said the Al-Qaeda operatives did not use modern communications gadgets or go to public places for fear of detection by American operatives.

The Punjabi Taliban commander claimed his friends had met Saad bin laden "a few days" ago. He claimed Saad was engaged in the jehad against US forces in Afghanistan and even knew the place where he was fighting.

The commander also said many Punjabi Taliban had died in drone attacks as they stayed together with tribal and Afghan militants. "On the advice of our Arab colleagues, we prefer to stay separately in the border areas and thus remain safe," he said.

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