Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it has revoked the citizenship of Hamza bin Laden, one of the sons of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Reuters reported. The interior ministry’s statement to this effect was published by the official gazette.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has listed Hamza bin Laden in its sanctions list. The designation imposes a travel ban on him and orders a freeze on his assets and an arms embargo. The sanction describes him as the “most probable successor” of the group’s current leader Aiman al-Zawahiri.
The announcements came a day after the United States announced a reward of up to $1 million (over Rs 7 crore) for information on him, with the State Department saying Hamza bin Laden was “emerging as a leader” in the al Qaeda.
However, according to a statement published in the Um al-Qura official journal, the decision to strip him of his citizenship was made by a royal order in November.
The US State Department had designated Hamza bin Laden a global terrorist in 2017 after he called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the US for his father’s killing. He had also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged Saudi tribes to unite with Yemen’s al Qaeda to fight against Saudi Arabia.
Hamza bin Laden is the son of Khairiah Sabar, one of Osama bin Laden’s three surviving wives. Sabar was living with her husband when he was killed in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in a military operation in 2011, a decade after the September 11 attacks. Hamza bin Laden, who is suspected to be around 30 years old, has reported to have been living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and even Iran in the past.
Osama bin Laden’s wives and other children have gone back to Saudi Arabia, where they were given refuge by the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. They reportedly still stay in touch with Bin Laden’s mother, Alia Ghanem.
In August, reports emerged that Hamza bin Laden had married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the chief hijacker in the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States. He is considered the second-in-command to current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the al Qaeda. Bin Laden has reportedly threatened to exact revenge against the United States for his father’s death. In January 2017, the US added him to its counter-terrorism list, prohibiting its citizens from doing business with them.