By HASANI GITTENS
August 3, 2006 — A son of Osama bin Laden has gone from Iran to Lebanon with the mission to organize terror attacks against Israel, it was reported yesterday. Saad bin Laden, 27, one of the terror mastermind’s eldest sons, was released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard last Friday, according to the German daily Die Welt.
“From the Lebanese border, he has the task of building Islamist terror cells and preparing them to fight with Hezbollah,” the paper said, quoting intelligence sources. “Apparently, Tehran is counting on recruiting Lebanese refugees in Syria for the fight against Israel, using bin Laden’s help,” it added.
The young bin Laden was supposedly under house arrest in Iran.
In 2004, Iranian former foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said the country had jailed about a dozen al Qaeda suspects and would put them on trial. Among them were bin Laden and Saif al-Adel, the terror network’s security chief.
Up until this latest move, intelligence officials believed that Saad, who speaks fluent English, was part of a small cadre running al Qaeda from Iran.
“Our general view is Iran certainly does have a few al Qaeda-related figures,” said a counter-terrorism official when asked about the Die Welt report. “The general perception is Iran keeps these people as a bargaining chip.”
According to that official, Shiite Muslim Iran is not sympathetic to members of the Sunni-dominated al Qaeda but “they protect them as long as they think they can make use of them.”
Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a video message last week in which, while not mentioning Hezbollah by name, he urged Muslims everywhere to “fight and become martyrs” in response to the conflict in Lebanon.
Israel accuses Iran of providing Hezbollah with missiles to use against civilian and military targets. Tehran, which funded Hezbollah in the 1980s, insists it now provides only moral support to the group.
Officials don’t know if Saad played a role in the 9/11 attacks, but he has allegedly provided support for other al Qaeda missions – and he is thought to be very close to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the chief planner of the atrocities against the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Saad is also believed to have a part in the April 11, 2002, bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia that left 19 dead, most of them German tourists.
Experts also say he may have direct involvement with operatives in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, who carried out a suicide bombing on May 12, 2003, which killed 35, including eight Americans.
He’s also suspected of being involved in bombings less than a week later in Morocco that killed 45 people. Saudi security officials have said they believe Saad was in touch with the killer cell and ordered and planned the bombings from Iran.
In October 2003, Osama himself named Saad as the heir to his terror kingdom. In an audiotape meant to inspire the overthrow of Israel, the elder bin Laden said, “When that day comes, our son Saad will ride in triumph at the head of our great cause.”
That message was directed to “The Jerusalem Force,” which is said to be an elite private army dedicated to protecting Saad and other top al Qaeda thugs.
Saad grew up at his father’s side in Afghanistan and supposedly fought the Soviets with him as soon as he was old enough to hold an AK-47.
He was reportedly smuggled into Iran from Afghanistan sometime in 2002.
A CIA profile reportedly describes Saad, a founding member of al Qaeda as just a teenager, as “the mirror image of his father, physically and mentally.”
It says “his readiness to kill was a prerequisite for him to be groomed for leadership.”
The terror leader-in-training was born in Saudi Arabia in 1979 and is one of 11 children of bin Laden and his first wife, Najwa Ghanem, a Syrian. Osama has at least 23 children from his harem of wives.
Saad and his mother first went to Afghanistan in the ’80s to be with Osama, then returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989. They were forced to move to Sudan when the Saudi government objected to bin Laden’s extremist version of Islam.
Saad learned English and received most of his formal education in Sudan, then moved with his father back to Afghanistan in 1996, when he was 17. They fought British and U.S. troops side by side when the war on terror began, then fled into Pakistan.
Osama reportedly sent Saad to Iran because it became too difficult for him to direct operations from the mountains of Afghanistan.