Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, heir apparent to leadership of the militant group al Qaeda, is dead, according to multiple U.S. officials.
He was killed sometime in the last two years, during the Trump administration, but officials took some time to confirm his death, The New York Times reported.
In February, the State Department said Hamza was emerging as the new leader of the group and offered a $1 million reward for information on him. He was thought to be about 30 years old and based somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
“He has released audio and video messages on the Internet, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces,” the State Department said earlier this year.
However, Hamza had already been killed by February — although his death had not yet been confirmed by U.S. military and intelligence agencies, according to the Times.
The U.S. government had a role in the Hamza bin Laden’s death, but it remains unclear what that role was. Officials provided scarce details on when and where his death occurred, discussing the matter anonymously because it involved sensitive information and intelligence gathering, the Times reported.
When asked by reporters on Wednesday about bin Laden’s reported death, President Donald Trump declined to comment.
Hamza bin Laden’s last known public statement was released by al-Qaeda’s media arm in 2018, NBC reported. In that message, he threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt.
He is believed to have been born around 1989. His father moved to Afghanistan in 1996 and declared war against the U.S. Hamza, who moved with him, later appeared in al-Qaeda propaganda videos, NBC reported.
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Hamza was married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker involved in al-Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
His father was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011. Letters found by the Navy Seals during the raid on his hideout showed that Hamza had asked his father to train him to follow in his footsteps, and that the elder bin Laden was preparing him for the role.
Osama bin Laden was believed to have fathered at least 20 children with half a dozen wives and was himself the 17th of 52 children. The letters uncovered in the raid after his death suggest that Hamza was one of his favorites.