Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed, United States media reported, citing American officials.
NBC News said three US officials had on Wednesday confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death, but gave no details of the place or date. The New York Times subsequently cited two US officials saying they had confirmation that he was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report. “I don’t want to comment on it,” he said. Both reports suggested that bin Laden may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019.
Hamza bin Laden was not targeted just because he was bin Laden’s son, said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremists. “He was one of Al-Qaeda’s loudest voices calling for attacks in the West and giving directives. He, with Al-Qaeda’s help, was positioning himself to lead the global jihadi movement,” Katz said on Twitter. He was seen as a future leader who would unite the global jihad. Thus, if he is indeed dead, it will be a major blow to the movement,” she said.
The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was “emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise,” the State Department said in announcing the reward.
Sometimes dubbed the “crown prince of jihad, he had put out audio and video messages calling for attacks on the United States and other countries, especially to avenge his father’s killing by US forces in Pakistan in May 2011, the department said.