American officials say Saad bin Laden, a son of Osama and an al-Qaeda operative, is free from years of house arrest in Iran and is now in Pakistan, the New York Times reports. The circumstances of his enforced stay in Iran are unclear, as are those surrounding his release, or possible escape. The US believes he and other al-Qaeda fighters were held by Iran in part to deter a terrorist attack on that country.
The relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda "is very complex—to describe them as being on the same team is a simplistic representation,” said one counterterrorism official. The revelation that Saad is in Pakistan, a hub of al-Qaeda activity, comes as the US levied financial sanctions against him and three other operatives believed to be in Iran. The move would deter “would-be donors from providing financial support to terrorism,” an official said.