New Delhi: United States President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed that Hamza Bin Laden, the son of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a counter-terrorism operation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
In a statement released by the White House on Saturday morning, three days after the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, Trump said: “Hamza, a high-ranking Al Qaeda member, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.”
“The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the statement continued. “Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.”
US media reported at the beginning of August that bin Laden was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the US, citing US intelligence officials. But Donald Trump and other senior officials so far had refused to confirm or deny it publicly.
US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper last month had confirmed Hamza’s death.
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 a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019 — perhaps after his actual demise.
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.
That work made him important in attracting a new generation of followers to the extremist group which carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US which left nearly 3,000 dead.
His father’s death in 2011 and the rise of the more virulent Islamic State group saw Al-Qaeda lose currency with younger jihadists, but the group appears to have been plotting a stealthy comeback under leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.