Osama's daughter watches unarmed father killed
Osama bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter, Safia, has reportedly told Pakistani investigators that her father was captured alive by US special forces before being shot dead in front of his family.
The claims, reported by the al-Arabiya network, contradict early statements from the White House that the al-Qaeda chief was killed trying to resist capture.
But they came as Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, admitted that the Navy Seals who raided Bin Laden's compound in the town of Abbottabad in the early hours of Monday made no great effort to persuade him to surrender.
"The authority here was to kill Bin Laden," Panetta told PBS television. "Obviously, under the rules of engagement, if he had in fact thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn't appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him," Panetta said.
Panetta later told NBC television that the opportunity to capture Bin Laden alive "never developed".
There have been conflicting accounts from Washington on the details of the operation, raising suspicions that the Seals had indeed been on a shoot-to-kill mission.
The White House said initially that Bin Laden had used his wife as a human shield and had been armed. But, in fact, a woman killed during the operation was not his wife and the al-Qaeda chief was not carrying a weapon.
Al-Arabiya reported that Safia was one of eight women and children taken from the high-walled compound only a few hundred metres from Pakistan's premier military academy.
It said that Safia and her mother, who is thought to be Bin Laden's fifth wife, had been taken to the garrison town of Rawalpindi for medical treatment and to be debriefed by Pakistani intelligence.
The girl's account differed from the official White House version in other ways.
Safia reportedly told her interrogators her father was shot dead at the start of an operation that took 40 minutes, slightly longer than expected, after one of the Seals' three Black Hawk helicopters crashed to the ground because of a technical fault.
Al-Arabiya reported that Bin Laden was dragged to a helicopter after being shot dead. He was buried at sea a few hours later from a US warship.
Captured with members of the Bin Laden household was a Yemeni woman who Pakistani officials think might have been Bin Laden's personal doctor. The 54-year-old al-Qaeda leader suffered from kidney problems.
A Pakistani official challenged the US account of a gun battle at the compound, telling Al-Arabiya. "Not a single bullet was fired from the compound at the US forces and their choppers," he said.
Security officials said they did not recover any arms and explosives during their search of the compound and the 13-room house on Monday and Tuesday.
"There was no bunker or tunnel inside the house and that's why I don't understand why the world's most wanted man would have decided to live here," a senior official said.
Pakistani leaders rejected suggestions that Bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the country's powerful security apparatus.
But the Afghan government said Pakistan must have known he was living in Abbottabad, echoing international suspicions about Islamabad colluding with its supposed enemy.
"Not only Pakistan, with its strong intelligence service, but even a very weak government with a weak intelligence service would have known who was living in that house in such a location," said General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defence Ministry spokesman.
Officially, the US has yet to decide whether to release a picture of Bin Laden's corpse, but Panetta said he had no doubt that a photograph would be released.