Bin Laden’s Son Hamza Emerges as Potential Al-Qaeda Leader

Al-Qaeda may be training one of Osama bin Laden’s young sons for a leadership position within the jihadist organization, according to a newly surfaced video that features his voice.

“One of Osama bin Laden’s sons could be expanding his role as a terrorist spokesman, with al Qaeda this week releasing another video that features his voice,” reports CNN. “On Monday, an audio recording surfaced in which Hamza bin Laden calls for unity among jihadi militants in Syria, who currently fight under competing banners ranging from ISIS to al Qaeda.”

A translation by the SITE Intelligence Group reveals that Hamza “also calls for jihad against Israel and its American backers to ‘liberate’ Palestine,” adds the report.

Adherents of Islam everywhere must “participate in our Palestinian brothers’ intifada” by “killing Jews and striking their interests worldwide,” he states, according to The Long War Journal

The undated footage was reportedly released by al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm As-Sahab.

Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, was killed during a CIA raid in May 2011 by the fabled Navy SEAL Team Six.

Unlike one of his brothers, Hamza, believed to be in his early or mid-20s, avoided death during the raid, notes CNN, which added that “papers found at the compound indicate that Hamza had been sent off for terrorist training.”

“His whereabouts now are unknown, but some experts believe he is being carefully stage-managed by al-Qaeda’s leadership to one day take over his father’s role,” according to The Independent. 

“The Islamic umma (nation) should focus on jihad in al-Sham (Syria) … and unite the ranks of mujahideen,” Hamza reportedly said. “There is no longer an excuse for those who insist on division and disputes, now that the whole world has mobilized against Muslims.”

The newly released video marks the second one made in the last year, reports CNN.

“From a very early age, his father was kind of grooming him,” said Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst and author of the book United States of Jihad. “Hamza has been very much indoctrinated with the whole jihadi kind of message. He’s a true believer. I think that makes him a concern.”

Hamza’s new message echoes one he released in August 2015.

“The audio, which includes a call for lone-wolf attacks on the [W]est, is believed to be the first time al Qaeda propaganda has presented Hamza bin Laden as an official member of the militant group,” reports Breitbart News.

Hamza called on individuals to carry out attacks against U.S. and its allies, namely the U.K., France, and Israel, adds BBC.

Rita Katz, director and co-founder of SITE, was quoted at the time as saying that Hamza was being groomed “as a future leader: someone loved and inspirational, without a negative reputation or participation in infighting.”

As a young man, Hamza, also spelled Hamzah, could represent the next al-Qaeda generation, says CNN.

“Al Qaeda clearly hopes that Hamzah will help represent this new generation of al Qaeda followers,” writes Thomas Joscelyn, a terrorism researcher with The Long War Journal, after bin Laden’s son released his first message.

“This is the new bin Laden, who is going to ultimately lead us into the future,” CNN quotes Joscelyn as saying after the most recent message.

He adds, “Just a month before the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, we know Hamza was somewhere else in Pakistan being trained by al Qaeda leadership. He was receiving high-end explosives training.”

It remains unclear whether Hamza holds any position with operational duties in planning terrorist attacks, or whether he is solely responsible for al-Qaeda’s propaganda operations, points out CNN.

Nevertheless, an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told CNN that “Hamza bin Laden currently has a relatively small role in the organization, but that al Qaeda could be grooming him for possible future leadership positions.”

“I don’t think he’s necessarily going to run al Qaeda tomorrow,” said  CNN’s Bergen, “but the family name, the fact that he’s a younger guy, the fact that he’s a true believer — all that suggests that he likely will play an important role in al Qaeda going forward.”

A day prior to the release of Hamza’s message, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, echoing bin Laden’s young son, praised the jihadist group’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front.

“Both call for unity among the warring Islamist groups of Syria, despite the al-Qaeda offshoot’s ideological clashes with ISIS, its more media-savvy rival,” notes The Independent. 

Unity in Syria was “one of life and death” for the various jihadist groups, Zawahiri said in his own message.

“Either you unite to live as Muslims with dignity, or you bicker and separate and so are eaten one by one,” he said.


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