*Osama bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter watched as her father was shot dead by American special forces, a senior Pakistani intelligence official has told the Guardian.
The girl, who was found at the scene of the raid by Pakistani security services, is being cared for at a military hospital having been wounded in the attack. She has been questioned about the sequence of events during the raid last weekend.
At least 10 people were left alive at the end of the attack, which saw Bin Laden killed in an upstairs room of the three-story house where he had been living. Hamza, one of the al-Qaida leader’s sons, was killed. His body was removed with that of his father by the assault teams.
The survivors include eight children and two adults, both women. One is Bin Laden’s fifth wife, a 29-year-old Yemeni, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah who married the al-Qaida leader around 11 years ago in Afghanistan. The other is understood to be a Yemeni doctor in her 30s whose passport indicates that she arrived by legal means in the region sometime between 2000 and 2006, when the document expired.
Local authorities arrived on the scene of the raid as American special forces were leaving. It is believed that the attackers originally planned to evacuate all those in the compound but the breakdown of a helicopter meant there was no space to take them.
Instead, only the bodies of Bin Laden and his son Hamza, who was in his early 20s, were taken to the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson and buried at sea. Survivors were left with their hands fastened with plastic handcuffs, a second Pakistani official said, adding that initial communications with the survivors had been difficult as the Pakistani police and military arriving at the scene did not speak Arabic.
Four bodies are understood to have been recovered by Pakistani officials from the compound, including those of two brothers who have been reported to be behind the construction and management of the house. One is believed to be the crucial courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who inadvertently led the CIA to Bin Laden. A third body was that of one of the brother’s wives. The other casualty is believed to be a guard who has yet to be identified or possibly a domestic servant.
Pakistani officials told the Guardian that Bin Laden’s daughter, which various reports named as Safina, Safia or Ayesha yesterday, had been hit in the ankle in the moments before the assault team reached the room where they found her father, and later passed out. The wound was possibly caused by fragments from a grenade thrown by the assault team as they attacked, one said.
The girl and her mother are believed to be at a high-security military hospital.
US press reports cite a US official saying Fatah had told Pakistani authorities that Bin Laden had lived in the complex, at least part of the time, since it was built in 2005. Yesterday, other reports from Pakistan contradicted that statement, saying survivors had told officials they had arrived five or six months ago.
White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed earlier this week that she was “in the room with Bin Laden” when injured.
John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, had initially claimed Fatah was killed while “she was being used as a shield”, but the White House later said that account was inaccurate.
US intelligence officials have also said Fatah, rather than Bin Laden’s daughter, identified the al-Qaida leader’s body.
In other OBL news, the reported use of “Geronimo” as a code word in the operation that led to bin Laden’s killing has angered some native Americans and threatens to become an embarrassment for the Obama administration.
Geronimo was an Apache warrior leader who fought for tribal lands against U.S. and Mexican forces in the 19th century and who, like bin Laden, evaded capture for many years. He was held as a U.S. prisoner of war from the time he was captured in 1886 until his death in 1909.
It has been widely reported that U.S. forces said “Geronimo EKIA (Enemy Killed in Action)” to confirm bin Laden’s death.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will discuss on Thursday concerns raised over “the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemy of the United States,” said the committee’s chief counsel Loretta Tuell.
While the Geronimo code word for the bin Laden operation has been widely reported, the Pentagon has not confirmed it. Pentagon officials did not immediately respond to requests for reaction to the objections by Native Americans.
“To equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our Tribe and to all native Americans,” wrote Jeff Houser, chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, in a letter to President Obama.