Wednesday 18 September 2019

US believes Bin Laden's son and jihadi heir is dead

Al-Qa’ida figure Hamza bin Laden
Al-Qa’ida figure Hamza bin Laden

Mark Hosenball

The United States believes that Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, is dead, a US official said yesterday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided no further details.

President Donald Trump earlier declined to comment after NBC News first reported the US assessment. Asked if he had intelligence that bin Laden's son had been killed, Trump told reporters: "I don't want to comment on it."

Separately, the White House declined to comment on whether any announcement was imminent.

Hamza, believed to be about 30, was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks on the US and spent time with him in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al-Qa'ida's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011. Hamza was thought to be under house arrest in Iran at the time, and documents recovered from the compound indicated that aides had been trying to reunite him with his father.

The 'New York Times' reported that the US had a role in the operation that led to Hamza's death, which it said took place in the past two years.

The US government's conclusion appears to be a recent one. In February, the State Department said it was offering a reward of up to $1m (€900,000) for information leading "to the identification or location in any country" of Hamza, calling him a key al- Qa'ida leader.

Irish Independent

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