osama bin laden 88.
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One of Osama bin Laden's most trusted aides was a Palestinian from the West Bank who was recently killed in a US military operation in Afghanistan, Palestinian Authority security sources revealed on Thursday.
The sources identified the man as Husam Abu Baker, 32. They said his family, which lives in the village of Ya'bad near Jenin, was notified about his death only this week.
His father, Abdel Latif, said he last saw his son about 10 years ago. The family was then living in Saudi Arabia when Husam left the kingdom to join al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
Husam, according to village residents, was married to Fatmeh, the daughter of Ayman Zawahiri, the number-two man in al-Qaida. They said the last time his family heard from him was last week, when he phoned to inform them about the birth of his fourth daughter.
It's not clear what role Abu Baker played in al-Qaida, but the PA security sources said he was among bin Laden's closest confidants. "He was married to Zawahiri's daughter and this already places him among the top brass of al- Qaida," said one source. "We were surprised to learn that a Palestinian was among the top leaders of al-Qaida."
It's also not clear how many more Palestinians are involved with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Islamic countries.
PA security officials have repeatedly warned that al-Qaida and bin Laden had succeeded in establishing bases in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to the officials, several al-Qaida operatives had crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt ever since Israel abandoned the Rafah border crossing.
Last week a leaflet signed by al-Qaida was distributed in some parts of the Gaza Strip. The leaflet called on Palestinians to step up their attacks on Israel. It was the second leaflet of its kind to be distributed in the area since the beginning of the year.
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