Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, the chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed, US media reported Wednesday citing American officials.
NBC News said three US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death but gave no details of the place or date.
The New York Times subsequently cited two US officials saying they had confirmation that he was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report.
“I don’t want to comment on it,” he said.
Both reports suggested that bin Laden may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head in March 2019.
In May, the FBI added Hamza bin Laden to it’s Seeking More Information List (SMIL).
Hamza was wanted for questioning in connection with his membership in the al-Qaeda and his public declarations threatening the security of the US. He has ties to and may be located in, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or Iran.
Described by the US as an “emerging leader” within al-Qaeda, Hamza has been classified as a “terrorist” by the US since 2017.
Hamza is reportedly married to the daughter of Al-Qaeda senior leader Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, aka Abu Muhammad al Masri, who has been indicted for his involvement in August 7, 1998, bombings of the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Earlier in March, the UN Security Council (UNSC)designated Hamza bin Laden, under its sanctions list, subjecting him to a travel ban, assets freeze and an arms embargo as it described him as being seen as the “most probable successor” of the group’s current leader Aiman al-Zawahiri.
Hamza bin Laden “has called for followers of Al-Qaeda to commit terror attacks. Is seen as the most probable successor of al-Zawahiri,” the powerful 15-member Council had earlier said.
“With the Islamic State ‘caliphate’ apparently on the verge of collapse, Hamza is now the figure best placed to reunify the global jihadi movement,” former FBI special agent and Al-Qaeda specialist Ali Soufan wrote at the time of his blacklisting.
Saudi Arabia had announced it had revoked the citizenship of Hamza bin Laden via a royal decree in November.
In January 2017, the State Department had listed Hamza bin Laden as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, freezing all of his assets based in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons. The designation also prohibited US persons from engaging in transactions with him.
In 2016, bin Laden released an audio message urging terrorists in Syria to unite, claiming that the fight in the war-torn country paves the way to “liberating Palestine.”
And in a message a year later, following in the footsteps of his father, he urged the overthrow of the leadership in their native Saudi Arabia.