On Sunday’s edition of CBS News’s 60 Minutes, former FBI agent Ali Soufan revealed that letters captured in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden pointed to a leadership role for his son Hamza.
Soufan, who was the FBI’s lead investigator on al-Qaeda after 9/11, said Hamza bin Laden is about 28 years old now and has been seen as a possible leader for the terror organization since he was a boy. In a letter he reportedly wrote to his father when he was 22, he said, “I consider myself to be forged in steel. The path of jihad for the sake of God is what we live.”
Soufan noted that not only does Hamza sound like Osama bin Laden when he writes such passages, but he has appeared in al-Qaeda propaganda videos for many years, becoming a “poster kid” for the organization. This could make al-Qaeda operatives more receptive to him as a top leader when he comes of age.
He might have come of age already since he has already recorded several audio messages as a terrorist spokesman. Soufan characterized his message as, “American people, we’re coming and you’re going to feel it. And we’re going to take revenge for what you did to my father.”
“Iraq, Afghanistan – the whole thing was about vengeance,” Soufan said. He went on to describe al-Qaeda as “stronger than ever,” with armies in several countries stronger than anything Osama bin Laden saw in his “wildest dreams.”
Hamza bin Laden’s latest message was published on a website affiliated with al-Qaeda just a few days ago. He called for his followers to “punish the Jews” and discussed the details of recent attacks against Israelis.
“We have to look for Jewish infidels everywhere. If you cannot carry out attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories, you must look for the Jews wherever they are, in Europe, the United States, and anywhere else in the world,” said Osama bin Laden’s son.
He called upon jihadis to “avenge the children of Syria, the widows of Palestine, the free honorable women of Iraq, and the orphans of Afghanistan,” and warned attacks on the United States were imminent.
“We shall continue to target you until you withdraw your forces from the Arabian Peninsula and from every single land of Islam,” he said.
Hamza bin Laden had some strategic advice for “martyrdom seekers” operating in the West: “Be perfect in your choice of targets, so that you may damage your enemies more. If you are able to pick a firearm, well and good; if not, the options are many. Take lead in inflicting losses, attacking the jugular of the enemy and hitting its joints.”
If Hamza desires leadership of al-Qaeda, he would have to displace current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose recent messages to the faithful have been geared more towards cleansing “crusader” and apostate influences from Syria and Iraq, rather than attacking American soil.
“Our people in Syria, prepare yourselves for a long battle with the Crusaders and their allies the Shiites and Alawites,” al-Zawahiri said in an audio file released three weeks ago.