Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Donald Trump confirms Hamza bin Laden was killed in US operation

Death of Osama bin Laden's favourite son 'deprives Al Qaeda of important leadership skills and a symbolic connection to his father'

The White House says Hamza bin Laden has been killed in a US counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. AP
The White House says Hamza bin Laden has been killed in a US counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. AP

Osama bin Laden's favourite son and likely heir apparent to the Al Qaeda leadership was killed by US forces, Donald Trump has confirmed.

Hamza bin Laden “was killed in a United States counter terrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region,” a statement from the US president said.

The undated killing of the younger 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 said.

US officials including Secretary of Defence Mark Esper have previously said he was believed to be dead, without giving details. He was originally reported to have been killed in the first two years of Mr Trump's administration.

Mr Trump's confirmation raised the possibility that Hamza had been in Pakistan just like his father, who was killed in a US raid on his Abbottabad compound in 2011.

Analysts have said the death of Hamza, aged around 30, dealt a symbolic blow to Al Qaeda, ending extremist hopes of a dynastic leadership for what was once the world's most notorious terrorist group. He was believed to be being groomed to eventually lead the group, in the hope his youth and extremist pedigree would inspire a new generation of younger fighters to revitalise a terror group which had become overshadowed by ISIS.

Yet Hamza could point to few operational or organisational successes and it was uncertain he had inherited his father's vision or abilities, analysts have suggested. His death may have little practical effect on a network which has proved resilient.

The US State Department designated Hamza a global terrorist in 2017 after he called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for killing his father.

In March 2019 America then put a $1m (Dh 3.67m) bounty for information on his head, though it now appears he may have already been dead.

Updated: September 14, 2019 10:25 PM

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