The US has added Hamza Bin Laden, a son of 9/11 mastermind and former Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, to its list of global terrorists.
Hamza Bin Laden was officially made a member of Al-Qaeda in 2014, and has previously called for attacks on American citizens in the US and overseas, according to the US State Department.
Here are 10 things to know about Hamza Bin Laden:
- Born in 1991, Hamza Bin Laden is one among more than 20 children of slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. It was reported as early as 2009 that Hamza was being groomed by Osama to take the reigns of Al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama’s elder son in a US drone strike.
- When Osama Bin Laden was ambushed by US Navy Seal in a military compound in Pakistan’s Abbotabad city, it was originally thought that Hamza Bin Laden was among the family members who were also killed in the raid. However, that claim turned out to be false.
- Hamza Bin Laden has been described by several security experts as a charismatic leader who enjoys great support among the rank-and-file of Al-Qaeda. Professor Fawaz Gerges, an expert on Middle East politics, in August 2016 remarked that Hamza comes with new ideas that Al-Qaeda desperately needs after being overshadowed by Islamic State in recent years. Another terrorism expert at US-based Brookings Institution, Bruce Riedel, described Hamza as the “new face for Al-Qaeda” and an “articulate and dangerous enemy”.
- The 25-year old budding terrorist was reportedly dubbed the “Crown Prince of Terror” by a British Parliamentarian in 2008 after one of the poems he wrote called for the destruction of America, Britain, France and Denmark.
- Hamza Bin Laden was originally accused of involvement in the assassination of former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto, but it was later found that he had been under house arrest in Iran when the PM was killed.
- In July 2016, Hamza reportedly released an audio message threatening America with revenge for the death of his father in a US special forces raid in Pakistan in 2011.
- The US state department has claimed that Hamza is “actively engaged in terrorism”, and poses a “threat” to security of US citizens home and abroad. He has been hit by economic sanctions by Washington, which means that he will not be able to access the US financial system.
- The younger Bin Laden is believed to a vocal supporter of the cause of Palestinian statehood, and had called on his supporters to carry out attacks in Israel, as per one of his recent videos.
- He is also believed to have been involved in Al-Qaeda’s propaganda activities during the Syrian civil war. According to a few reports, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State locked horns in Syria for influence in the Islamic world, an ideological battle in which the ISIS prevailed. While he did support the Syrian revolution against Bashar al-Assad, Hamza’s views on Islamic State are less known.
- While Ayman al-Zawahiri has remained in charge of Al-Qaeda since the death of Osama Bin Laden, security analysts have hinted that Hamza may be sworn in as the terrorist group’s next head due to his youthful outlook and a legacy family name. Islamic State’s clever use of the internet has been a major reason it has been able to influence Muslims worldwide to join its violent cause, a tactic Al-Qaeda hasn’t mastered yet.