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U.S. Approached Bin Laden Family For DNA

Aired February 27, 2002 - 09:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have a new development at this hour in the search for Osama bin Laden.

Let's go straight to Barbara Starr, who joins us from the Pentagon with an update. Barbara, what do you got?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Paula. Well, there has been a small but very interesting development this morning.

CNN has learned that the United States has now formally approached the bin Laden family and asked them for DNA samples. This has not happened before. It has always been the case that the U.S. government has simply said if they need DNA, that they would then go to the family, and now they have. We are told that in the last three to four days, the U.S. government has approached members of the bin Laden family and asked them for those samples.

Now, what's interesting, of course, is the armed forces pathology laboratory is looking at those human remains that were recovered from a CIA missile strike in Zawar Kili. They are trying to do some DNA matching and find out the identities of the three people who were killed in that missile strike.

We're told that there is no particular reason to believe that bin Laden was one of those three, except one of the people killed was tall, was dressed in Arab white robes, and was showed a great deal of deference by the other two men.

One senior official tells us they've gone to the bin Laden family to get the DNA now because they want to at least rule out, definitively, that bin Laden was not -- one of the people killed in that strike. So far, they also tell us, there is no response from the bin Laden family as to whether or not they will provide the DNA samples -- Paula.

ZAHN: Do they really expect the bin Laden family to cooperate down the road?

STARR: Well, the bin Laden family is, in fact, a very, very large group of people. Most of the family members have repudiated Osama bin Laden. There have been indications in the past that many of them would be willing to cooperate, but we are going to have to see, now that the official request has come from the United States, whether the family will, indeed, provide the samples. All of this, apparently, happened about three to four days ago, and so far no official response from the family.

ZAHN: Fascinating story. Thanks, Barbara. Appreciate that update.

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