May 2011 Archives

Osama bin Laden's DNA

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From this New Scientist article:

John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said the DNA evidence provided a match with "99.9 per cent confidence". That would require the comparison of DNA from the body with that of people known to be related to bin Laden. Bin Laden had no full siblings, but more than 50 half-siblings and up to 24 children.

Using DNA from many half-siblings could produce a DNA match of greater than 90 per cent confidence, but it would be difficult to get as high as 99.9 per cent without a closer relative says Rhonda Roby, a forensic geneticist at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth. Roby, who led the team using DNA evidence to identify the remains of people killed in the 9/11 attacks in 2001, says that the statistical analysis based on DNA from half-siblings is more complex and less reliable than analysis based on DNA from a closer relative like a parent or child.

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