U.S. media differ on leaked intel reports of bin Laden heir’s demise

FPI / August 8, 2019


The son of late Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S.-supported operation, according to reports citing U.S. intelligence officials. Separate reports said only that he was believed to have been killed.

Video footage reportedly shows Hamza bin Laden at his wedding.

Hamza bin Laden, thought to be about age 30, had in recent years been groomed as an emerging leader in the terrorist organization. In the past few years, he had released audio and video messages calling for attacks on the U.S. and other countries. The U.S. government had offered $1 million for information leading to his capture.

The Al Qaida terrorist’s death was widely reported on July 31 by U.S. media outlets including NBC News, The New York Times and CNN, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials.

The reports said Hamza bin Laden was killed in a military operation in the last two years and suggested the U.S. was involved, but the exact date and time were unclear.

Other reports, including one by Fox News, cited administration official as saying bin Laden was believed to have been killed.

President Donald Trump declined to comment when questioned by reporters on July 31, as did national security adviser John Bolton. The Pentagon did not comment.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that Al Qaida backer Shili Al-‘Aqidah cautioned on his Telegram channel that the U.S. media reports were “unconfirmed and unreliable” and warned that the information was merely an intelligence ploy.

“The U.S. delay in announcing Hamza’s death can be attributed to many variables, from political maneuvering to receiving final confirmation via DNA testing,” said Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group which tracks jihadists movements.

“What is more peculiar though, is why Al Qaida hasn’t said anything in this time. The group confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden less than a week after he was killed in May 2011 but has not given any comment regarding Hamza. It could very well be that the group was hiding his death because the AQ leadership knew how valuable he is to the group. Hamza bin Laden was Al Qaida’s most charismatic figure and was beloved across the global jihadi movement. For those reasons Al Qaida may have wanted Hamza — or at least the idea of him — to endure for as long as possible.”

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