US President Donald Trump has confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden nearly six weeks after US media reported it. The son of Osama bin Laden was widely viewed as being groomed to take over the terror group al-Qaida.
Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza was killed in a US counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region at some stage in the past two years, US President Donald Trump confirmed Saturday.
“The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.
US media, citing unnamed officials, reported in early August that the possible heir to lead al-Qaida had been killed sometime in the past two years in an operation that involved the United States.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said last month that it was “his understanding” thatthe younger bin Laden was dead, but Trump and other senior officials had not publicly confirmed his death.
It’s unclear why Trump decided to confirm Hamza’s death now. The announcement comes days after the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks and the collapse of US-Taliban peace talks.
Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was the 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children.
In February, the US government put a $1 million (€900,000) bounty on his head, saying he was “emerging as a leader in the al-Qaida franchise” — even though he may have already been dead.
US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in 2011.
Al-Qaida has since been led by his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He is believed to be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.