WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday said that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden was killed in a US counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.
The statement, issued by the White House press office, did not say when the operation was carried out and when did Hamza die.
“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 US president said.
He also said that “Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups”.
Reports of Hamza’s death first appeared in the US media in July, months after he stopped making public statements. He made his last statement in 2018.
Last month, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News in an interview that it was his “understanding” that Bin Laden (junior) was dead.
“I don’t have the details on that. And if I did, I’m not sure how much I could share with you,” he added when asked if the US had any role in his death.
Earlier this year the US State Department called Hamza, who was believed to be in his early 30s, an “emerging” leader in the terrorist group, offering a million-dollar reward for information leading to his capture.
The State Department said items seized from the elder Bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan during the US Navy SEAL raid in 2011 indicated he was grooming Hamza to replace him as Al Qaeda’s leader. Osama bin Laden was killed in that raid.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia revoked Hamza bin Laden’s citizenship. He had married the daughter of a senior leader in Al Qaeda who was charged by a federal grand jury for his role in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019