The White House on Saturday issued a statement that Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late al-Qaida leader, was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation 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.
“Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups,” it added.
The younger bin Laden was seen as an eventual heir to al-Qaida’s leadership, and the leader of the group, Ayman al-Zawahri, praised him in a 2015 video that appeared on jihadi websites, calling him a “lion from al-Qaida’s den.”
The U.S. government in February said it was offering $1 million as part of the State Department’s Justice Rewards program to help track down Hamza bin Laden. The notice from the department said he was married to a daughter of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an al-Qaida leader and Egyptian charged for his role in U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998. They were said to have two children, named after his parents, Osama and Khairiah.
In January 2017, he was named a “specially designated global terrorist” and had released audio and video messages calling for attacks on the U.S. and its allies. Al-Qaeda superimposed a childhood photo of him over a World Trade Center photo to mark one 9/11 anniversary.
Hamza bin Laden began appearing in militant videos and recordings in 2015 as an al-Qaida spokesman.
“If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong,” he said in his first audio recording, referencing the place in Pakistan where his father, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011.
A video emerged in August 2015 on al-Zawahri’s jihadi websites introducing “a lion from al-Qaida’s den “—Hamza bin Laden. Hamza has been featured in al-Qaida messages since then, delivering speeches on everything from the war in Syria to the visit of Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.
He hadn’t been heard from since a message in March 2018, in which he threatened the rulers of Saudi Arabia.
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.