A son of al-Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden, believed to be an operative of the terror network, is probably hiding in Pakistan, the chief intelligence officer of the United States has said.
US Intelligence officials consider Saad bin Laden to be a mid-level al-Qaeda operative who fled to Iran after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Two years later, Iran's government placed him under what US officials call "permissive" house arrest.
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told reporters on Friday that Saad departed Iran in September and is probably hiding in Pakistan, where his father is also believed to be, the CNN reported.
McConnell did not say whether the younger bin Laden escaped detention or was allowed to leave Iran.
He indicated that he was not troubled by the move, suggesting the United States has a better chance of getting rid of Saad if he is in Pakistan, the report said.
"It is better in my world if they are in places where we have access," McConnell said.
Questions about Saad's whereabouts were prompted on Friday by a Treasury Department release that announced financial sanctions had been imposed on bin Laden's son and three other al-Qaeda members with ties to Iran. The statement said, "As of September 2008, it was possible that Saad bin Laden was no longer in Iranian custody."
The Treasury Department described Saad "as part of a small group of al-Qaeda members that was involved in managing the terrorist organisation from Iran."