In a major development, US President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed that Hamza bin Laden, son of terror group al Qaeda's founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in an American counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
"Hamza bin Ladin, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama bin Ladin, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region,” Trump said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump confirms death of Al-Qaeda heir Hamza bin Laden: AFP News Agency pic.twitter.com/ueoKftwHq9— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2019
However, the US President did not specify the exact place where Hamza, whose last known public statement was released by al Qaeda's media arm in 2018, was killed and under what circumstances.
In that message, he had threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt. Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship in March this year.
"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," Trump said.
"Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups," he added.
Hamza's last known public statement was released by al-Qaeda's media arm in 2018. In that message he had threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt. Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship in March this year.
Reports about the death of Hamza, who according to The New York Times was not older than 30 years, first surface in late July and early August.
Trump had then refused to confirm those reports.
"I can't comment about that. But he was very threatening to our country. He was saying very bad things about our country," Trump said at the White House on August 1 when asked if the US had any role in Hamza's death.
Hamza's father Osama was killed in a raid by the US Navy SEAL in Pakistan's garrison city of Abbottabad in 2011.
Earlier this year, the US State Department called Hamza an "emerging" leader in al-Qaeda, offering a million-dollar reward for information leading to his capture.
The State Department said the items seized from the elder bin Laden's hiding place in Abbottabad during the raid had indicated that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as al-Qaeda's leader.
Hamza married the daughter of a senior al-Qaeda leader who was charged by a federal grand jury for his role in the August 1998 bombings on the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya.
With PTI Inputs