LONDON (AP) — Three relatives of the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were among four people killed when a private jet crashed on landing in southern England, British police confirmed Saturday.
The Hampshire Police force said formal post-mortems were still being conducted, but the victims were believed to be “the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the bin Laden family.” It said all three were Saudi nationals who were visiting Britain on vacation. The plane’s Jordanian pilot also died.
Arab media and NBC News named the relatives as Osama Bin Laden’s stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister Sana bin Laden and her husband Zuhair Hashim.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, 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.
Police said the Embraer Phenom 300 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 was flying from Malpensa Airport in Milan to the airfield about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of London, which is used by private planes and flying clubs.
No one on the ground was hurt. Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch launched a joint investigation.
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 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.