Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, is dead, NBC News reported on July 31. Hamza had been expected to take over as al Qaeda leader. He was 30 years old. His death has not been officially confirmed. The NBC report was later confirmed by the New York Times.
Hamza bin Laden is one of Osama bin Laden’s living wives, Khairiah Sabar. Sabar was present during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound that resulted in the death of the 9/11 mastermind. Hamza was at a training camp at the time of the raid. The current leader of al Qaeda is Egyptian eye surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The NBC report says that Hamza’s death was confirmed by three U.S. officials. The New York Times reports that the U.S. was involved in Hamza’s death. In February 2019, the CIA offered a $1 million reward for information regarding Hamza’s whereabouts.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hamza Was Born to a Child Psychologist Mother in Saudi Arabia in 1989
The Associated Press reported in March 2019 that Saudi Arabia, where Hamza was born, in the city of Jeddah in 1989, had revoked his citizenship. That AP article identified Hamza’s mother a child psychologist who was also from Jeddah. Jon Gambrell wrote, “She gave birth to Hamza, their only child together, as al-Qaida took its first, tentative steps toward the Sept. 11 attacks.”
Hamza’s latest wanted poster from the FBI says that he was suspected to be in either Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or Iran. The poster concludes with the lines, “Hamza bin Laden is wanted for questioning in connection with his membership in the Al Qaeda organization and his public declarations threatening the security of the United States.”
2. Hamza Is Said to Have Been Extremely Popular Among Rank-and-File Jihadis
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan wrote in September 2017 that “Hamza is being prepared for a leadership role in the organization his father founded. The article said that Hamza was looked upon fondly by “rank-and-file” jihadis. Soufan added that Hamza was seen as a new figure who could unite jihadis across the world due to the collapse of ISIS. The article’s title referred to Hamza as being “al Qaeda’s Leader in Waiting.”
Those writings were echoed by Professor Fawaz Gerges told the BBC in August 2017 that Hamza was “the new face of al-Qaeda – he is charismatic, he is very popular with the rank and file. He was his father’s favorite son – everyone, even for the last ten years, has been talking about Hamza succeeding his father.”
3. Hamza Is Rumored to Have Married to the Daughters of Al Qaeda Leaders
The FBI said in 2018 that Hamza had married the daughter of Al Qaeda senior leader Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, aka Abu Muhammad al Masri. al Masri has been indicted for his involvement in the bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
The Guardian reported in August 2018 that Hamza was also married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta. Atta is considered to have been the lead hijacker on 9/11. Hamza’s uncles, Ahmad and Hassan al-Attas told the newspaper that their nephew had taken a senior role within Al Qaeda and was planning revenge on the U.S. for the death of his father in 2011. Ahmad said in the interview, “We have heard he has married the daughter of Mohammed Atta. We’re not sure where he is, but it could be Afghanistan.”
4. Al Qaeda Released Audio in 2016 in Which Hamza Called for War Against Israel & the U.S.
The SITE Intelligence Group published audio in 2016 that had been released by al Qaeda. Hamza could be heard calling for war against Israel and U.S.
The act of promoting Hamza was an attempt to capitalize on the 30-year-old’s last name. Security analyst Peter Bergen told CNN at the time, “Obviously, he has the family name. He’s now playing a propaganda role, and he’s a lot younger than some of the other leaders of al Qaeda, in their 50s or their 60s.” In 2008, the Daily Telegraph reported that Hamza made similar calls for war against the United Kingdom.
5. Hamza bin Laden Was Originally Reported to Have Been Killed in the 2011 Raid that Killed His Father
In the confusing aftermath following the SEAL Team 6 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, the New York Times reported that one of those killed in the firefight was Hamza bin Laden.
On May 6, three days after the raid, the Guardian reported that Hamza’s remains had been removed from the compound. By May 11, the Daily Beast was reporting that Pakistani authorities were saying that Hamza had not been at the compound at the time of the raid and was considered to be on the run.