United States President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, one of the sons of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
“The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. “Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.” The statement, however, did not mention when or how he was killed.
Several American media outlets had reported Hamza bin Laden’s death on July 31, citing unidentified officials. Hamza bin Laden was expected to eventually take over the leadership of al Qaeda.
Laden was believed to have been killed in either 2017 or 2018, during the first two years of the Donald Trump administration. This would mean that he was killed even before the United States imposed sanctions on him in February. The sanction described him as the “most probable successor” of the al Qaeda’s current leader Aiman al-Zawahiri. The United States had also announced a reward of up to $1 million (over Rs 7 crore) for information on him, with the US State Department saying Hamza bin Laden was “emerging as a leader” in the al Qaeda.
Some experts speculated about the significance of this killing as Hamza bin Laden had not yet taken over the reins of al Qaeda or done anything significant.
The US 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 9/11 attacks. Hamza bin Laden, who was suspected to be around 30 years old, was 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 2018, reports had emerged that Hamza bin Laden had married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the chief hijacker in the 9/11 terror attacks.