A Fort Worth DNA expert says that no results from DNA samples from Osama bin Ladenâ€™s body after he was killed in a U.S. raid on his hideout in Pakistan have been disclosed by U.S. government officials and that any media reports about the DNA are inaccurate.
Bruce Budowle is a local DNA expert and professor in the University of North Texas Health Health Science Centerâ€™s Department of Forensic and Investigative Genetics, and executive director of the Institute of Investigative Genetics.
Budowle made a splash last week when he was quoted in national media as an expert in DNA â€“ and he said bin Ladenâ€™s DNA case has not been reported well.
â€śGiven what Iâ€™ve seen so far, there have been some inconsistencies in whatâ€™s been presented, and the reason for that is unknown at this time,â€ť he said last week during an interview with theÂ Business Press.
Budowle, who worked for the FBI in its forensic science laboratory for 26 years and assisted in identifying victims of the 9/11 attacks, said the media have only speculated about DNA evidence, but no accurate information has been presented.
â€śIt could be because someone made a mistake in the beginning, or someoneâ€™s not telling stuff or the media misinterpreted, but itâ€™s all speculation at this point,â€ť Budowle said.
The DNA test results that were reported also were inconsistent values, he said.
â€śWeâ€™ve heard that itâ€™s from his sister in Boston, thatâ€™s one explanation, and someone else said he only has a half sister and not a full sister, yet they had a 99.99 percent certainty. That alone says there was something done to the calculations,â€ť he said.
But if officials did need bin Ladenâ€™s DNA to confirm that it was his body the U.S. team brought out of Pakistan, they could get it quickly, Budowle said.
â€śIn crime labs it can take a lot longer of a time frame, but in theory, if you just had one single mission, and youâ€™re making a comparison, it can probably be done in a few hours,â€ť he said.
DNA testing can increase the chances of accurately identifying an individual by using a large number of genetic markers, such as from blood or a cheek swab.
â€śIf you have a sample from the individual from years before and it is a direct comparison, you can have a very, very high probability, like 99.9 percent. However, if you are comparing indirectly and do not have a sample from the individual but comparing to a relative, youâ€™re only getting partial information, so the power is reduced unless you have a lot of relatives,â€ť Budowle said.
The more family members one has to compare to an individualâ€™s DNA, the better the result for identification.
Many speculate if officials do have a direct sample of DNA from bin Laden, or if they have an indirect sample of DNA from a family member to compare the results.
â€śThatâ€™s where the problem comes in. Right now, anything is just speculation or at best misunderstood,â€ť he said.
Budowle said he did not know what officials used to compare DNA results for bin Laden, but speculated that they used the standard routine genetic markers first, which are used in most crime labs.
Bin Ladenâ€™s DNA test results also depend on what family member was used.
â€śI think thereâ€™s a lot of confusion so far on what has been conveyed,â€ť he said.
According to administration officials, facial recognition software was also used to help identify bin Ladenâ€™s body.
â€śThey both can be very accurate, but given the pool of candidates, it may be one is better in one situation than another,â€ť Budowle said.
Accuracy and probability are two large factors when comparing DNA results.
â€śProbability is not accuracy, because something can be very accurate but the result may not give you a high probability for certainty for identity,â€ť he said.
If officials do have bin Ladenâ€™s DNA, then it probably would be used for further studies, possibly to see whether it shows up in any other evidence, such as explosive devices or in other terrorists attacks.
â€śMy guess is that you would be unlikely see his [DNA] because it didnâ€™t look like he was active himself. He seemed to use others to do the work, so the chances of his DNA leading us to other cases may be remote,â€ť Budowle said.
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- Rapid ID of bin Laden Uses Relatives’ DNA Matches (livescience.com)