Washington: The United States has obtained intelligence that the son and potential successor of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Hamza bin Laden, is dead, said reports on Thursday.
However, officials would not provide details of where or when Hamza bin Laden died or if the US played a role. It is also unclear if the US has confirmed his death.
The US had announced a bounty of USD 1 million for Hamza’s whereabouts.
Hamza’s last known public statement was released by Al Qaeda’s media arm in 2018. In that, he had threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt. He had recently married the daughter of September 11 hijacker Md Atta.
Hamza is believed to have been born around 1989. His father moved to Afghanistan in 1996 and declared war against the US. Hamza went with him and appeared in Al Qaeda propaganda videos. As a leader of Al Qaeda, Osama oversaw operations against Western targets that culminated in September 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Navy SEALS killed Osama in 2011 during a raid on his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound. Hamza was not found there. Letters seized from there suggested that Osama wanted his son to join him in Abbottabad and was grooming him as a leader.
In a September 2017 article, counterterror expert and former FBI agent Ali Soufan said, “Hamza is being prepared for a leadership role in the organization his father founded” and is “likely to be perceived favourably by the jihadi rank-and-file. With the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ apparently on the verge of collapse, Hamza is now the figure best placed to reunify the global jihadi movement.”
The department’s Counterterrorism Rewards Program described the younger bin Laden on Twitter as “an emerging al Qaeda leader” who “has threatened attacks against the United States and allies.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (With Agency Inputs)