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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Osama’s Son Hamza bin Laden Is Dead, Says Report Citing Intelligence Seen by U.S.

Osama bin Laden’s groomed heir who had been reaching out to a millennial audience is believed to be dead, according to a new report.

NBC News cited three unnamed officials as saying the United States obtained intelligence that indicated Hamza bin Laden’s death, but would not say where or when he may have passed away or if the U.S. had a role.

Hamza bin Laden, thought to have been born around 1989 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, had a million-dollar bounty slapped on his head in March by the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. He was raised in Iran with his mother — bin Laden’s third wife, Khayriya Saber — after the 9/11 attacks. His whereabouts today are unknown, but the State Department noted that he married the daughter of lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. He was officially designated a global terrorist in the final days of the Obama administration.

With 68-year-old Ayman al-Zawahiri still officially at the helm of al-Qaeda, Hamza bin Laden was reaching out to millennials to help position the terror group for sustained growth and global lethality driven by a new generation.

In late 2017, Hamza bin Laden called for terrorists to target the Navy SEALs who killed Osama at the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in 2011. “I invite Muslims generally to take revenge from the Americans, the murderers of the sheikh, specifically from those who participated in this heinous crime,” he said.

That call to arms concluded with “a few words of encouragement” from the al-Qaeda heir, delivered in verse: “Tell America that our swords / In the battleground only increase in their sharpness / They will remain unsheathed to decapitate you / In the hope of reward from the glorious Lord.”

Hamza also stressed that Muslims should follow in his father’s footsteps — and his own footsteps, for that matter — and “dedicate your youth to jihad.” A July 2016 video from Hamza was titled “We Are All Osama.”

Osama’s journal seized from the Abbottabad compound revealed a fascination with the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, with the elder bin Laden emphasizing that “this chaos and the absence of leadership in the revolutions is the best environment to spread al-Qaeda’s thoughts and ideas” — though he quibbled with the timing and pace of revolutions.

In his 2017 message, Hamza encouraged Muslims to “return to jihad” as Osama “departed this world encouraging and inciting you to continue the journey of the revolutions, warning you against premature termination or diversion of these revolutions.”

“The Arab Spring revolutions bore the message of freedom and honor, but they did not possess a protective force or a sharp sword for their defense, and thus the enemies assailed it and derailed it from its path,” he said.

Thus, Hamza continued, a new Arab Spring could be launched — focused on “agents of the Americans,” establishment of shariah law, and the battle against “subjugation to Western Crusader hegemony, widespread political and financial corruption, social injustice and moral decay.”

“The sincere people of authority and understanding among the Muslim masses must work to incite the masses and prepare them for an uprising,” he said. “They must spread awareness among them regarding the means for a successful uprising, its purpose and goals, which must from the very beginning be in conformity with the shariah of the wise one.”

While al-Qaeda has created some of the seminal manuals for “open-source jihad” — as they call lone terrorist actors — Hamza stressed the importance of young jihadists receiving at some point preparation “physically in the arts of military training and fighting.”

“This may be done by sending them in groups or individually to the theaters of jihad — the crucibles for the formation of men, the life springs of honor — so that they may engage in the necessary preparations and acquire sufficient experience before returning to the society,” he said in 2017, adding that “this must continue until the preparations are complete and the masses are ready for an uprising.”

Bin Laden’s son said that “what America and its allies fear the most is that we shift the battle from Kabul, Baghdad, and Gaza to Washington, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv, and that we transfer the battle to all of the interests of America, the Jews, and the West in the world.”

In a May 2017 audio message, Hamza told would-be jihadists that “if you are able to pick up a firearm, well and good; if not, the options are many.”

His last message was issued in spring 2018, in which he touted a jihadist Robin Hood plan of sorts, vowing to “redistribute the riches of the country among the poor and the needy and the deserving, so that the sons of the country can live honorably and in strength in the shade of the shariah.”

A major source of these riches, according to his video, would be Saudi Arabia, which revoked Hamza’s citizenship on Feb. 22, 2018, as well as other Middle East rulers seen as allied with the West. Hamza said that while whipping up “our dear people in the Arabian Peninsula” to rise up “against the criminal tyrants and rulers of the country,” al-Qaeda wants to incite particularly young followers “to liberate the place of revelation from the Crusaders, and protect the Two Holy Mosques from the Safavids, and establish a complete and rightly guided Islamic system.”


Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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