Bid to reunite bin Laden and son before deadly raid – documents
21 May 2015, 11:12
Washington - Just one month before Osama bin Laden was killed at his Pakistani hideout by US commandos in 2011, his aides tried to reunite him with a beloved son, Hamza, who had been held under house arrest in Iran, documents released on Wednesday show.
In a message dated April 2011 an al-Qaeda operative named "Mahmud" wrote to bin Laden describing efforts he was making to smuggle his son, one of many children of the al-Qaeda leader, to meet with him.
"I have tried to find a way to send him to you on the main road, but I was not able to find one due to the intensified security procedures and searches," Mahmud wrote.
The letter was one of hundreds of documents seized by the commandos when they staged a daring raid on bin Laden's secret home in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May, 2011. They were released in Washington by US intelligence.
Hamza and other family members, including his mother Khairiyah, bin Laden's third wife, spent years in Iran, where they fled after the September 11 2001 attacks and subsequent US military operation against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
In a message to his father dated July 2009, Hamza lamented that he "was separated from you when I was a small child, not yet 13. ... You might not recognize me when you meet me, as my features have changed".
"But what truly makes me sad," Hamza added, "is the Mujahidin legions have marched and I have not joined them."
In his November 2010 letter, "Mahmud" described Hamzah as "very sweet and good", but added that he appeared to have become depressed.
"He comes back to me asking me that he should be trained and participated in giving. He does not want to be treated with favouritism because he is the son of 'someone'... I promised him to plan some safe training for him: firing arms and with various weapons," Hamza wrote.
US officials said it was unclear if Hamza bin Laden ever got a chance to see his father before the US raid. A US official said he did not know where Hamza is today, or if he even is still alive.
He is not believed to have been at the Abbottabad house when the raid took place, although a number of other relatives were there.