Osama bin Laden’s son dead, say reports
Washington, Aug 1 (IANS) Hamza bin Laden, the son of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and a rising figure in his late father’s violent Islamist group, is believed to have died in an airstrike, US media outlets reported citing intelligence officials.
The date, location and other circumstances surrounding the death weren’t immediately clear, but communication among militants suggested he had been killed, the officials said, according to reports.
US President Donald Trump and top administration officials didn’t immediately confirm the reports of the death.
"I don’t want to comment on it," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the reports.
Hamza bin Laden, thought to be aged about 30, had released audio and video messages calling for attacks on the US and other countries.
In February, the US government offered $1 million for information about him, and Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship.
Hamza bin Laden’s death was first reported by NBC News. Reports said he was killed in a military operation in the last two years and the US government was involved, but the exact date and time were unclear.
US officials had become increasingly concerned in recent years about his repeated threats and calls for attacks on Americans at home and abroad as well as against America’s allies.
US government and private analysts say that Al Qaeda is much weaker than it was in its heyday and less potent than its ideological rival Islamic State. But, they say, Al Qaeda is still capable of inspiring terrorist attacks and has several lethal affiliates worldwide, according to Efe news.
In its base in South Asia, Al Qaeda’s "core has been seriously degraded. The death or arrest of dozens of mid and senior-level Al Qaeda operatives … has disrupted communication, financial support, facilitation nodes and a number of terrorist plots," the US State Department said in its most recent report on terrorism in 2017.
"Al Qaeda, however, remains a focal point of ‘inspiration’ for a world-wide network of affiliated groups," it added.
The State Department had imposed sanctions on Hamza bin Laden in 2017, saying at the time that he was actively engaged in terrorism.
He was believed to have been born in 1989 in Saudi Arabia and was the only known son of Osama bin Laden who was still aligned with the terrorist group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Osama bin Laden’s another son was killed along with his father in 2011 during a Navy Seals raid on their compound in Pakistan. A third son distanced himself from Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri declared Hamza bin Laden an official member of the group in 2015, and the State Department said that he had married the daughter of Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the September 11 attacks.