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Trump Confirms Osama Bin Laden's Son Hamza Is Dead

Trump Confirms Osama Bin Laden's Son Hamza Is Dead

Saturday, 14 September, 2019 - 14:00
A photograph circulated by the US State Department’s Twitter account to announce a $1 million USD reward for al Qaeda key leader Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, is seen March 1, 2019. State Department/Handout via REUTERS

US President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed that Hamza bin Laden, the son and designated heir of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a counter-terrorism operation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.


US media reported in late July and early August, citing intelligence officials, that the younger Bin Laden had been killed sometime in the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.


Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed the death last month, saying it was "his understanding" that Bin Laden was dead, but Trump and other senior officials had not publicly confirmed the news.


"Hamza bin Laden, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region," Trump said in a brief statement issued by the White House.


“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the statement said.


Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father’s side in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He also spent time with his father in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda’s senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.


The US State Department designated Hamza a global terrorist in 2017 after he called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for killing his father.


The statement did not specify the timing of the operation.


The 15th of Osama bin Laden's 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was "emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise," the State Department said in announcing a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019 -- perhaps after his actual demise.


Sometimes dubbed the "crown prince of jihad," he had put out audio and video messages calling for attacks on the United States and other countries, especially to avenge his father's killing by US forces in Pakistan in May 2011, the department said.


That work made him important in attracting a new generation of followers to the extremist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which left nearly 3,000 dead.


- Heir apparent -


Osama bin Laden's death and the rise of the more virulent ISIS group saw Al-Qaeda lose currency with younger militants.


But the proliferation of branches and associated militant groups in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere have underscored its continuing potency.


Documents seized in the raid on his father's house in Abbottabad, Pakistan suggested Hamza was being groomed as heir to the Al-Qaeda leadership.


US forces also found a video of Hamza's wedding to the daughter of another senior Al-Qaeda official that is believed to have taken place in Iran.


In 2017, Hamza was placed on the US terror blacklist, seen as a potent future figurehead for the group then led by Ayman al-Zawahiri.


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