The secretive life of Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, who was an active terrorist from age 12 and who is reportedly dead after years on the run

The reward posted from the US State Department published in March 2019.

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The reward posted from the US State Department published in March 2019.
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US State Department

  • Hamza bin Laden, the son of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, is dead after years of being a wanted man, according to reports.
  • The US State Department offered a reward of up to $1 million for information about the son of the 9/11 mastermind in March 2019.
  • The department considered Hamza bin Laden a top figure within al-Qaida and listed him as a top priority Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2017.
  • Here’s the story of Osama’s son, who is implicated in the assassination of a Pakistani prime minister, vowed to avenge his father’s death, and married the daughter of a 9/11 hijacker.

Hamza bin Laden, the son of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who reportedly traveled to Afghanistan to “avenge” his father, is dead, according to reports.

On Thursday, The New York Times, NBC, and the BBC reported that bin Laden had died, citing multiple unnamed US officials. The BBC said he was killed in an air strike.

The US State Department in March 2019 offered a reward of up to $1 million for an “identification or location” that would help them capture him. According to the new reports, by that time he may already have been dead.

Bin Laden was being groomed to take over from Osama until his father’s death at the hands of the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six in 2011.

This is what we know about of the son of the most famous terrorist: where he started out, how he’s emerging as a leader in al-Qaida, and why the US was so keen to capture him.


The US State Department said Hamza bin Laden was born in 1989 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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A video still of a young Hamza bin Laden.
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Newsy

Source: US State Department.


He is the son of Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind. His mother is Khairiah Sabar, one of bin Laden’s three surviving wives.

Source: US State Department.


He was involved in al-Qaida operations from an early age — this video shows him at age 12.

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Hamza bin Laden, center, seated between two Taliban fighters near Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2001.
source
Reuters

In 2005, he was identified in a separate video called “The Mujahideen of Waziristan,” which showed an al-Qaida assault on Pakistani security forces in North Waziristan. He was 16 at the time.

Source: CBS.


Hamza bin Laden made international headlines in December 2007, as an 18 year-old, when al-Qaida claimed responsibility for assassinating Pakistan’s first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto addresses delegation during an opening speech of a UN conference in 1994.
source
Reuters

Bhutto had previously told media she suspected bin Laden and al-Qaida could be the ones trying to kill her. It is not known whether he was directly involved in the hit.

Source: Wired


But on May 2, 2011, bin Laden’s father, Osama, was shot dead by members of SEAL Team Six during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Osama bin Laden and an unidentified man.
source
wikipedia commons

It was rumored that Hamza bin Laden, 22 at the time, had escaped from the compound that day. But Osama’s journals obtained by the CIA suggest he wasn’t there at the time.

Source: CIA


Other letters obtained from the compound show the 9/11 mastermind was grooming Hamza bin Laden to be his successor.

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Picture taken from undated Al-Jazeera television footage showing Hamza bin Laden.
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Reuters

Source: US State Department, The Guardian


On August 14, 2015, bin Laden was officially announced as a member of the al-Qaida terror group by leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida.
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Screen grab

In an audio message announcing his membership of the group, bin Laden called for acts of terrorism in western capitals.

Bin Laden provides a younger voice for al Qaida – whose aging leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world, especially in light of more modern terror operations such as ISIS.

Source: US State Department, Reuters.


In 2015, bin Laden called for lone-wolf attacks on US, French, and Israeli targets in Washington, DC, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

Source: US State Department.


On July 9, 2016, al-Qaida issued another audio message from bin Laden, in which he vowed revenge on the US and warned Americans they would be targeted in the US and abroad.

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The flag of al-Qaida.
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: US State Department.


As bin Laden’s profile increased, US authorities began to take more notice. On January 5, 2017, bin Laden was made a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US State Department.

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Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The designation is reserved for those who have committed, or could commit, serious acts of terrorism.

Source: US State Department


In November 2017, the CIA released footage from inside the Pakistan compound, showing bin Laden getting married when he was 17 or 18 years old.

The bride is not identified in the video, and it’s believed that bin Laden has married multiple times. One of his marriages was reportedly to the daughter of senior al-Qaida leader Abu Mohammed al-Masri.


In August 2018, it emerged bin Laden had married the daughter of the key 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta.

Source: Business Insider


Osama Bin Laden’s family gave an interview to The Guardian about Hamza bin Laden. Hassan bin Laden, Hamza’s uncle, said that he once thought Hamza had put terror behind him — but later realized he was wrong.

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A protester marches in Glasgow to mark the first anniversary of the Iraq War in March 2004.
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Reuters

“We thought everyone was over this,” he said.

“Then the next thing I knew, Hamza was saying, ‘I am going to avenge my father.'”

“I don’t want to go through that again. If Hamza was in front of me now, I would tell him: ‘God guide you. Think twice about what you are doing. Don’t retake the steps of your father. You are entering horrible parts of your soul’.”

Source: The Guardian


Hamza bin Laden is thought to be based near the Afghan-Pakistani border as of February 2019, reportedly acting as deputy to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaida leader.

source
Wikimedia Commons

“We do believe he’s probably in the Afghan-Pakistan border and … he’ll cross into Iran. But he could be anywhere though in … south central Asia,” the BBC quoted Michael Evanoff, assistant US secretary for diplomatic security, as saying.

Source: BBC


On February 15, 2019, the head of the UK’s MI6 intelligence agency warned al-Qaida was resurgent.

MI6 Chief Alex Younger said they’ve “managed to morph and reconstitute … in a more traditional, asymmetric threat.”

Source: Telegraph


The US State Department posted a reward of up to $1 million in February 2019 for information about bin Laden.

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Hamza bin Laden on the Arabic of the US State Department’s reward poster.
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US Department of State

Hours after the State Department announced the bounty on bin Laden, Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship.

Source: The Associated Press


On July 31, 2019, news broke that bin Laden had been killed within the past two years. The New York Times reported that the US was involved in his death, although it’s not yet clear what that role was.

Source: Business Insider