White House confirms Osama son killed
Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, was killed in a US counter-terrorism operation, the White House said on Saturday.
A White House statement said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the statement said.
A US official told Reuters Hamza had been killed months ago near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump was briefed at the time on the operation.
The US government assessed that Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, had succeeded his father as the head of what remains of al Qaida, the official said.
Hamza was at his fathers side in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US. He also spent time with his father in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaida’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 US for killing his father.
Reuters reported on July 31 that Hamza had been killed, citing a US official with knowledge of the matter. But Saturday’s statement represents the first time the US government has confirmed the operation.
It was unclear why the White House decided to publicise information about Hamza’s death on Saturday months after the operation.
The state department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hamza’s last known public statement was released by al Qaida’s media arm in 2018. In that message he had threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt. Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship in March this year.
The state department said the items seized from the elder bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbottabad during the raid had indicated that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as al Qaida’s leader. Hamza married the daughter of a senior al Qaida leader.