DUBAI: US President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday that Hamza bin Laden, the son of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a counter-terrorism operation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Hamza was an active Al-Qaeda member, introduced to the world by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in an audio message in 2015, in a bid to capitalize on his father’s legacy, and to seek legitimacy after the emergence of Daesh.
“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.
US media reported in 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.
On July 31, 2019, NBS news reported that Hamza, believed to be 30 years old, had died, quoting three US officials who said they had obtained intelligence that confirmed his death had taken place sometime in the last two years.
Since then, a senior Pakistani source confirmed to Arab News in early August, that he had died more than a year ago. “Hamza has died in Afghanistan, somewhere near the border with Pakistan, but it is unclear at this stage as to how he died,” he said.
A tribal source in Afghanistan around the same time, also told Arab News that Hamza was killed in an airstrike.“Hamza was in a house when the airstrike happened, and the locals only know that a young Persian-speaking man was killed, along with a Taliban activist in that strike,” the tribal source said, and added that the apparent target was an Afghan Taliban member named Abdul Rauf.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed the death later last month, saying it was his “understanding” that Bin Laden was dead, but Trump and other senior officials had not publicly confirmed the news.
Osama Bin Laden’s son was used to inspire and recruit militants in a total of 11 messages released mostly in 2016 and 2017, where he called on militants to attack the West.
His last message was released in March 2018 where he asked his followers to attack Jews, Americans, and Russians.
The US had previously refused to confirm Hamza’s death, but said nothing had been heard of him after the March 2018 message. As recently as February this year, the US State Department, which designated Hamza bin Laden a global terrorist in 2017, announced it would pay as much as $1 million for information leading to his whereabouts.
The department’s Rewards for Justice Program described him as “an emerging Al-Qaeda leader” who has threatened attacks against the US and allies. Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011.