Hamza bin Laden, son of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was reportedly killed in US attacks, multiple foreign media outlets said on Thursday. According to The New York Times and CNN, Hamza was killed in an anti-terror operation, which had direct role with the US administration. However, the specifics such as date, time and place of the operation in which Hamza was killed has not been reported so far. Giving a vague time period of the attack, The New York Times said that Hamza bin Laden was killed during the ‘first two years of Trump administration’.
Hamza bin Laden’s real age was never known. Only intel speculations were that he was in his 30s. There were reports that he was under house arrest in Iran. Later, unverified reports suggested that he was living in some secret location in Afghanistan. Since the dastardly 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda has not carried out any major terror operation. Hamza bin Laden came to limelight when in 2011, soon after his father was eliminated in covert operation by US special forces in Pakistan’s Abbottabad, he exhorted the Al Qaeda members to take revenge of Osama’s death.
According to the BBC report, the US State Department had announced $1 million bounty for anyone giving information about Hamza bin Laden. This happened in February. This raises the question over the timing of Hamza’s death. In case the attack was carried out before February, why did US announce the reward? Also, so far the US authorities have not confirmed Hamza’s death.
NBC, which was the first media outlet to report about Hamza’s death, quoted a September 2017 article in which, counterterror expert and former FBI agent Ali Soufan had said, “Hamza is being prepared for a leadership role in the organization his father founded” and is “likely to be perceived favorably by the jihadi rank-and-file.”
Meanwhile, a latest United Nations report said that Al-Qaeda “remains resilient” and continues to cooperate closely with Pakistan-based terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network, but the health of its leader Aiman Muhammed al-Zawahiri and how the succession will work are in doubt. The 24th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team was submitted to the UN Security Council Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee here this month. The sanctions monitoring team submits independent reports every six months to the Security Council on the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities.