The US Government is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the identification or location of Hamza bin Laden, the son of 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
US officials say that Hamza is emerging as a leader within Al Qaeda and has been releasing anti-Western propaganda online since at least 2015.
He has also threatened attacks against the US in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by American troops.
Here’s what you need to know about Hamza bin Laden.
1. He Was Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1989
The US State Department says that Bin Laden was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1989. He is the son of Khairiah Sabar, one of Osama bin Laden’s three surviving wives. Little is known about his early childhood. However, it wasn’t long before he appeared on the international terrorism radar.
Aged just 12, he appeared in Jihadist propaganda material and took part in Al Qaeda operations. By the time he was 16, he appeared in a video entitled “”The Mujahideen of Waziristan”, which documented an attack on Pakistan’s security forces.
2. However, He Is No Longer Welcome in His Native Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it had stripped Bin Laden of his citizenship. The news came just hours after US officials announced that they had placed a $1 million bounty on his head.
According to the Associated Press, the country’s official gazette stated that the decision had been made in November but no indication was given as to why the announcement was being made public now. The decision is thought to have been made by Royal Decree.
3. He Is Suspected of Being Behind The Assassination of Pakistan’s First Female Prime Minister
Hamza has also been linked to the assassination of Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. In memoirs released after her death, Bhutto said that she believed Bin Laden was the leader of one of four death squads determined to take her out.
“I was told by both the Musharraf regime and the foreign Muslim government that four suicide bomber squads would attempt to kill me,” she wrote in the book.
“These included, the reports said, squads sent by the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud; Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden; Red Mosque militants; and a Karachi-based militant group,” she added.
She also criticized then-President Pervez Musharraf for failing to take her security situation seriously.
“He (Musharraf) said he was concerned about my security and my safety, but his supporters did very little to provide the necessary protection we needed … protection to which I was entitled as a former prime minister,” she wrote.
4. Letters Reveal That His Father Was Grooming Him to Take Over The Al Qaeda Leadership
Following the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, US forces seized a range of items, including letters, found inside. According to State Department officials, one of these letters revealed that the senior Bin Laden was in fact grooming Hamza to take over the helm at the Al-Qaeda terror group.
Officials said that the letters “indicate that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader of al-Qa’ida.”
And now, it looks like the 9-11 mastermind’s plan may have worked.
Speaking about Hamza’s role at the forefront of Al Qaeda, The State Department said: “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.”
5. One of His Uncles Says She’s Married to a 9/11 Hijacker
In 2018, one of Osama bin Laden’s half-brothers told The Guardian that Bin Laden’s son may have married the daughter of one of the 9/11 hijackers. “We have heard he has married the daughter of Mohammed Atta,” said Ahmad al-Attas. “We’re not sure where he is, but it could be Afghanistan.”
In the same interview, Hamza’s half-Uncle urged him to turn away from the ways of terror.
“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 really negative and horrible parts of your soul,” al-Attas added.