Three family members of former Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden were killed in a private plane crash in southern England, British police said Saturday.
The Hampshire Police said 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 Usama Bin Laden’s stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister Sana bin Laden and her husband Zuhair Hashim.
Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdel-Aziz, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, offered his condolences to the wealthy bin Laden family, who own 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.
The crash occurred Friday, when an Embraer Phenmo 300 jet tried to land at Blackbusche Airport, an airfield used by private planes and flying clubs some 40 miles southwest of London.
The UK Daily Telegraph reported the plane overshot the runway and clipped a fence before nosediving into a car auction center and bursting into flames. British authorities said four people were killed in the crash.
Witness Barry Wright told the BBC that the plane “went up in a ball of flames in about 60 seconds.”
“It sounded like a missile coming in – very loud, followed by several explosions,” he said.
Andrew Thomas, who was at a car auction sales center based at the airport, also 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 as a whole disowned Usama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his militant activities. The family is a large and wealthy one. Usama bin Laden’s billionaire father Mohammed, who died in 1967, had more than 50 children and founded the Binladen Group, a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom.