One of Osama Bin Laden’s sons went missing on the night US special forces stormed their squalid hideout and shot the terror mastermind dead, Pakistani security officials have revealed.
They fear he could be Bin Laden’s youngest son, 19-year-old Hamza, who has been dubbed the “Crown Prince of Terror”.
Three of Bin Laden’s wives and several of his children were taken into custody by Pakistani intelligence forces after the raid – but now it appears one of his sons may have evaded capture.
The revelation came as fascinating new details emerged of the US assault force dispatched to find Osama Bin Laden, including the president’s insistence that it had to be large enough to fight off hostile Pakistani soldiers if need be.
President Obama’s determination to send a large task-force into Pakistan shows he was willing to risk a confrontation with the country, a close ally, if it meant capturing the al-Qaeda mastermind.
News of Hamza’s apparent escape emerged during the interrogation of Bin Laden’s three wives by Pakistani investigators.
Officials told ABC News the women had revealed one of the terror leader’s sons had not been seen since the raid – but the source did not confirm which one.
Another son, 22-year-old Khalid, was confirmed dead by the US military. He is believed to have been one of the men shown in graphic photos taken in the aftermath of the raid and released to Reuters last week.
Initially, the White House said Hamza was presumed dead, too, although it was not known for certain whether he was inside the compound when US Navy SEALs struck.
Bin Laden shared the top two floors with three of his wives and an unknown number of his younger children.
Both he and his son Khalid were shot dead by US special forces.
Pakistani officials say they are holding Bin Laden’s three widows, and eight or nine children belonging to all three men.
But according to ABC his mother is among the three widows being held by Pakistan intelligence.
She is thought to be Khairiah Sabar, who married Bin Laden in 1985.
Bin Laden’s youngest wife, Yemeni Amal al-Sadah, was shot in the leg as she charged at US forces when they stormed the compound.
All three women are due to be interrogated by US agents soon, after days of wrangling with Pakistani officials who have been interviewing the widows themselves.
Hamza was widely seen as his father’s heir. He had been implicated in the murder of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.
Pakistani investigators agreed it appeared someone was missing from the squalid lair where Bin Laden was shot dead on Sunday.
The terror mastermind shared the hideout with three of his five wives and several of his younger children, including his 12-year-old daughter, Safiyah.
According to Pakistani officials, the girl watched her father die and described how she saw his bloody body being hoisted into a US helicopter.
Pakistani authorities say they are holding eight or nine children who were found there after the US commandos left, some of whom were related to Bin Laden’s courier, who was also killed in the raid.
Altogether, Pakistani officials say they captured 17 people left behind in the compound after US forces left.
They are thought to include the wife of “Tariq”, believed to be the brother of Bin Laden’s trusted courier, Sheikh Abu Ahmed.
Bin Laden’s youngest son, Hamza, has in the past been dubbed as the Crown Prince of Terror and was widely-tipped to succeed his father.
He has made at least two appearances in Bin Laden’s propaganda videos.
In one, released in 2001 and made at the wedding of his brother Mohammed, Hamza wore combat dress and read a poem dedicated to his father’s exploits.
One passage went: “I’m warning America that its people will face terrible results if they chase my father. Fighting Americans is the basis for faith.”
In 2005, when he was 15, he featured in a jihadist film shot in a Pakistani tribal area on the Afghan border.
He held a semi-automatic assault rifle and was said to have just taken part in a battle against Pakistani security forces.
His voice also appeared in a video released on the third anniversary of London’s 7/7 bombings, calling for the destruction of the US, Britain, France and Denmark.
He declared: “Oh God, reward the fighters. God, be pleased with those who want to go for jihad. Grant victory to the Taliban over the gangs of infidels.”
Hamza was also implicated in the murder of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, who had named him as a leader of one of the al-Qaeda-linked groups of assassins planning to kill her. Agencies