- The New York Times and NBC News have reported that Hamza bin Laden, the son Osama bin Laden, was killed in the past two years. The Times reported that the US was involved in his death, though it’s not yet clear what that role was.
- The younger bin Laden had threatened Americans both at home and abroad and is believed to have been groomed for a leadership position in Al Qaeda.
- President Donald Trump confirmed the younger bin Laden’s death on Saturday, over a month after initial reports.
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President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday that Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden who reportedly travelled to Afghanistan to “avenge” his father, was dead. The younger bin Laden’s death was first reported by The New York Times and NBC News on July 31.
A statement from the White House provided little additional information – only that the younger bin Laden was killed by a US operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the three-sentence statement said. “Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.”
Initial reports indicated the younger bin Laden had been killed in the past two years; he was dead by the time the State Department offered a $US1 million reward for information about his whereabouts this past January, but military and intelligence agencies had not yet confirmed his death, according to The Times.
Hamza bin Laden was being groomed for a leadership position in Al Qaeda, according to The Times and NBC News.
But while the younger bin Laden may have been preparing for a leadership position, some experts doubt his influence in the group.
“Other than the president’s statement claiming an operational role, I have never seen any evidence of [Hamza] being involved in operations besides releasing audio and video tapes calling for violence,” Peter Bergen, a vice president focused on international security at the Washington think tank New America, told The Washington Post.
Hamza bin Laden fled with his father to Iran after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and since then had been reported in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as in Syria. He was not at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where his father was killed by SEAL Team 6 in 2011. The younger bin Laden was believed to have been born around 1989 and married to the daughter of a high-ranking Qaeda leader.
According to the United Nations Security Council, the younger bin Laden’s last public statement was in March 2018, through Al Qaeda’s official propaganda arm, As-Sahab, calling for revolution in the Arabian Peninsula and for the Saudi monarchy to be overthrown. Previous statements from Hamza bin Laden threatened Americans at home and abroad.