President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden who had emerged as a high-profile member of al-Qaeda, The Hill reported.
Trump said in a statement released by the White House that bin Laden was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, though did not provide an exact date for the death.
“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group. Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups,” Trump said in the statement.
News reports emerged earlier this summer indicating that bin Laden’s son had died. He had last made a public statement in 2018.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to confirm the death in late August, telling Fox News in an interview that it was his “understanding” that bin Laden was dead.
“I don’t have the details on that. And if I did, I’m not sure how much I could share with you,” he added when asked if the U.S. had any role in his death.
Bin Laden, buoyed by the fame of his father, was given a prominent role in the terrorist group that masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The State Department earlier this year offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture and labeled him an “emerging” leader in al-Qaeda, The Hill noted.
Hamza bin Laden had married the daughter of a senior leader in al-Qaeda who was charged by a federal grand jury for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and intelligence seized from Osama bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan after the raid that killed him suggested his son was being groomed to eventually head the terrorist group.
The younger bin Laden included threats to Saudi Arabia and a call to revolution in his last public statement made in a video in 2018, according to the United Nations. He was believed to have been in his early 30s.
Trump’s statement confirming bin Laden’s death comes just days after the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that drew the U.S. into wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq.