One of Osama bin Laden's sons may have gone missing in the midst of the Navy SEAL raid that took the life of the al Qaeda leader more than a week ago, Pakistani security officials told ABC News today.
The officials said bin Laden's three wives, who are all in Pakistani custody, said that one of bin Laden's sons has not been seen since the raid. The son was not identified, but Pakistani investigators agreed that it appeared someone was missing from the sprawling compound, the officials said.
Later, however, one U.S. official said there was no evidence anyone was missing from the compound and Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN that in a recent briefing with the CIA there was no mention of a missing son.
U.S. officials said that one of bin Laden's sons, Khalid, was killed in the raid. It is not known if another son, Hamza, was in the compound at the time of the raid, though his mother is reportedly one of the wives in custody. The U.S. has previously denied the SEALs took anyone from the compound other than bin Laden's body.
The U.S. initially faced resistance from Pakistani authorities when investigators asked for access to bin Laden's widows, but a U.S. official said Monday Pakistani official promised to make the meeting happen sometime soon. One senior Pakistani security official told ABC News there is still no timeframe for that meeting, however.
Bin Laden, who was married five times, is survived by at least 18 children. None of the sons, however, are in line to succeed their father for leadership of al Qaeda.
"Unlike a lot of Arab governments that are dynastic," said former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, "al Qaeda has not been and his sons have never played a real operational role of any significance. They did not appear to be groomed for leadership roles in al Qaeda."