Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, is beleived to be dead, according to reports out of the US. He had been seeking to stage attacks on western targets with the aim of restoring al-Qaida’s status at the vanguard of extreme jihadist groups, after many years of decline and eclipse by Islamic State
Who is he?
Hamza Bin Laden is the son of Osama Bin Laden and Khairiah Sabar, one of the former al-Qaida leader’s three surviving wives. She lived with him in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad where he was killed in 2011.
It is believed that Hamza was aged around 30, with the US State Department listing his suspected birth date as sometime in 1989, but the department also lists an alternative birth date of 1986.
He is believed to have been born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where the Bin Laden family have lived for generations and where Hamza’s grandmother and uncles, Osama’s mother and brothers, live today.
Hamza was married to one of the daughters of a senior al-Qaida leader, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah. A video of Hamza’s wedding was found in the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed. His family also reported in an exclusive interview with the Guardian in 2018, that Hamza had married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 terror attacks.
What is his involvement with al-Qaida?
Hamza has appeared in al-Qaida videos since he was a teenager. During the family’s time in Iran after 9/11, Hamza was mentored by Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, who was deputy to al-Qaida’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In March, Saudi Arabia revoked Hamza’s citizenship after the US offered a $1m (£800,000) reward for help locating him.
In their announcement of the reward, the State Department wrote that Hamza was “emerging as a leader in the al-Qaida franchise”.
Hamza has made public statements urging followers to wage war on Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv and threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the killing of his father by US military forces.
Recently he has been seen as a deputy to al-Zawahiri.
According to letters seized from Osama Bin Laden’s compound after his death, Osama was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader of al-Qaida.
Osama Bin Laden’s family has said that they thought Hamza had shaken off the ways of his father and they had been disappointed to learn he was emulating him.
“We thought everyone was over this,” Hassan Bin Laden, Osama’s brother, told the Guardian last year. “Then the next thing I knew, Hamza was saying, ‘I am going to avenge my father.’ I don’t want to go through that again. If Hamza was in front of me now, I would tell him, ‘God guide you. Think twice about what you are doing. Don’t retake the steps of your father. You are entering horrible parts of your soul.’”
What do we know about his death?
The death has been reported by several news outlets, citing multiple unnamed official sources. NBC News reported the US had received intelligence that he had died, citing three American officials. The New York Times, quoting two unnamed officials, also reported Hamza bin Laden had been killed some time over the past two years, and it had taken time to confirm the death.
The report said the US had a hand in the death of the al-Qaida heir.
Donald Trump was asked by reporters on Wednesday if the US had intelligence that Hamza bin Laden was dead, to which the US president replied: “I don’t want to comment on that.”