US intelligence has received information that Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza has died, NBC News reported Wednesday.
NBC said three US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death, but gave no details of the date or place, and did not indicate if they had confirmed the information.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the report.
“I don’t want to comment on it,” he said.
In February the US government put a $1 million bounty on Bin Laden’s head, saying the man sometimes dubbed the “crown prince of jihad” was “emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise.”
He had put out audio and video messages calling for attacks on the United States and other countries, especially to avenge his father’s killing by US forces in Pakistan in May 2011.
Documents seized in the raid on his father’s house in Abbottabad suggested Hamza was being groomed as heir to the Al-Qaeda leadership, according to the US State Department.
US forces also found a video of the wedding of Hamza, who was thought to have been 30, to the daughter of another senior Al-Qaeda official that is believed to have taken place in Iran.
Hamza bin Laden’s whereabouts have never been pinpointed. He was believed to have been under house arrest in Iran but reports suggest he also may have resided in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
The group behind the deadly September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Al-Qaeda’s prominence as a radical Islamist group has faded over the past decade in the shadow of the Islamic State group.
But branches and associated jihadist groups in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere have underscored its continuing potency.
AL-QAEDA: THE BASICS
- Emerged in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, as Arab volunteers joined US-backed Afghan mujahideen fighting to expel the occupying Soviet forces
- Osama bin Laden set up an organisation to help the volunteers, which became known as al-Qaeda, or “the base”
- He left Afghanistan in 1989, returning in 1996 to run military training camps for thousands of foreign Muslims
- Al-Qaeda declared “holy war” on Americans, Jews and their allies.
- Al-Shabaab is active in Somalia and East Africa and swore allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012.
- Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) came into being in 2006 when an Algeria-based militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Following a crackdown by Algerian forces it has moved into the Sahel and West Africa.
- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was formed in 2009 in a merger between two regional offshoots of the international jihadist network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
- Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) operates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and was established in September 2014.
- Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) is an al-Qaeda-affiliated organisation formed by the merger of several militant groups in Mali and West Africa.
- Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is a merger of several Syrian militant jihadist groups which controls Idlib province in northern Syria. Although HTS insists it is independent, the United Nations and the US both regard it a group associated with al-Qaeda.
- Al-Qaeda in Egypt consists of al-Qaeda-aligned groups operating in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Source: AFP – Additional reporting by BBC