Hamza bin Laden (shown), the son of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a rising force in the terrorist organization, was announced by the White House on Saturday to have been killed in an American counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.
The White House confirmed bin Laden’s death in a statement Saturday morning:
Hamza bin Ladin, the high-ranking al-Qa’ida member and son of Usama bin Ladin, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group. Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.
The statement did not specify when bin Laden was killed or provide details about the operation.
The news came just days after the 18th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attack, which American intelligence concluded was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.
Although bin Laden initially denied the attacks, he later claimed full responsibility for them in a 2004 video broadcast by the Qatari state-funded network Al Jazeera. He was ultimately reported to have been killed in Pakistan in 2011, although neither photographic nor DNA evidence of bin Laden’s death were released to the public.
Hamza bin Laden was seen as the eventual heir to al-Qaeda’s leadership. In a 2015 video, al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahri called him a “lion from the den of al-Qaida.”
The younger bin Laden was named a “specially designated global terrorist” in January 2017. He had previously released video and audio messages calling for attacks against America and its allies.
In February, the U.S. government said it was offering $1 million for assistance tracking down Hamza bin Laden through the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. The department said he was married to a daughter of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an al-Qaeda leader charged for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.
In a late August interview, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News Channel that it was “my understanding” that Hamza bin Laden was dead.
Saudi Arabia announced last March that it had revoked bin Laden’s citizenship. The kingdom likewise stripped his father of his citizenship in 1994 while living as an exile in Sudan after he spoke against the Saudi government.
Hamza bin Laden was last heard of in March 2018, when he sent out a message threatening the rulers of Saudi Arabia.
Photo of Hamza bin Laden: AP Images