Osama bin Laden's son Hamza, chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed, USA media reported on Wednesday citing American officials.
Bin Laden, believed to be about 30, was singled out in 2000 as his father's potential heir. US President Donald Trump and top administration officials didn't immediately confirm the reports of the death.
USA media on Wednesday reported that Hamza bin Laden was killed during the first two years of the Trump administration.
NBC News was first to report that the United States government had assessed Hamza bin Laden to be dead.
"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 US military forces", the State Department said at the end of February. In the May issue of Al Qaeda's Nawa-i-Afghan magazine, an article attributed to Hamza saw him praising his father for reviving jihad, and asked others to join and avenge his death at hands of the US.
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided no further details, including when Hamza died or where.
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said one thing is puzzling researchers who are closely tracking al Qaeda: "If Hamza bin Laden has indeed been dead for months, you would expect al Qaeda to have released some form of eulogy before today". On the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the attacks of 11 September 2001, for example, the terrorist network distributed a Photomontage showing the faces of Osama and Hamza bin Laden in the flames of the New York World Trade Center.
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But branches and associated jihadist groups in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere have underscored its continuing potency.
Hamza is believed to be the 15th of bin Laden's 20-odd children and spent his early childhood with his parents, first in Saudi Arabia and then in Sudan and Afghanistan in the Nineties. "He, with Al-Qaeda's help, was positioning himself to lead the global jihadi movement", Katz said on Twitter. Diplomats back in 2014 during the rise of ISIS did not see the group and its caliphate standing much of a chance against air campaigns and Western supported and led military actions, unlike Al Qaeda, which has had decades of experience on survivability, alliances and honing loyalty. "Thus, if he is indeed dead, it will be a major blow to the movement", she said. "Anything beyond that, I have no comment", Trump said.
"They needed someone younger and more active".
At his father's side in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, Hamza learnt how to handle weapons, and ranted in his thin voice against Americans, Jews and "Crusaders" in videos uploaded online.
"There is no longer an excuse for those who insist on division and disputes now that the whole world has mobilised against Muslims", he said. He also called for the overthrow of the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, the homeland of his family.
Osama bin Laden was killed by USA special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011.
Despite Hamza's death, al-Qaida is still a problem for the West, according to Nathan Sales, a counterterrorism expert at the State Department.