August 01, 2015
LONDON (AP) — Family members of the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were among four people killed in a private jet crash in southern England, the Saudi ambassador to Britain said.
He did not further identify the dead, but Arab media and NBC News reported they included a sister, brother-in-law and stepmother of Osama bin Laden. The plane’s Jordanian pilot also died. The ambassador, Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdel-Aziz, offered his condolences to the wealthy bin Laden family, which owns a major construction company in Saudi Arabia.
“The embassy will follow up on the incident and its circumstances with the concerned British authorities and work on speeding up the handover of the bodies of the victims to the kingdom for prayer and burial,” the ambassador said in a statement tweeted by the embassy late Friday.
Police say a pilot and three passengers died when an executive jet crashed into a parking lot and burst into flames while trying to land at Blackbushe Airport in southern England Friday afternoon. The plane had been flying from Malpensa Airport in Milan.
No one on the ground was hurt. Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch launched a joint investigation. Blackbushe Airport said the Embraer Phenom 300 jet crashed near the end of the runway while trying to land at the airfield about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of London, which is used by private planes and flying clubs.
Andrew Thomas, who was at a car auction sales center based at the airport, told the BBC that “the plane nosedived into the cars and exploded on impact.” He said he saw the plane and several cars in flames.
The official Saudi Press Agency earlier identified the plane as Saudi-owned without mentioning the bin Ladens. It said a Saudi official would work with British authorities in investigating the crash. The plane’s pilot was Mazen Salem al-Dajah, a Jordanian in his late 50s. His brother Ziad told The Associated Press that al-Dajah’s family had been told of his death by a representative of the bin Laden family’s corporation. He said al-Dajah received his pilot’s license in California about 25 years ago and had been employed by the bin Laden family.
The bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his militant activities. The al-Qaida leader was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.
The family is a large and wealthy one. Osama bin Laden’s billionaire father Mohammed had more than 50 children and founded the Binladen Group, a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom.
Mohammed bin Laden died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia in 1967. One of his sons, Salem, was killed when his ultralight aircraft flew into power lines in San Antonio, Texas, in 1988.
Gambrell reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.