The U.S. State Department is offering $1 million for information regarding the location of Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, founder and former leader of al-Qaeda.
U.S. officials believe Hamza is trying to revitalize the terrorist organization and bring it back to the forefront. The lighting rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, Syria, and other numerous places throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East forced the U.S. and other western intelligence agencies to shift their focus from the fight with al-Qaeda.
Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, said in a statement that “al-Qaeda during this period has been relatively quiet, but that is a strategic pause, not a surrender. Today’s al-Qaeda is not stagnant. It’s rebuilding and it continues to threaten the United States and its allies. Make no mistake, al-Qaeda retains both the capability and the intent to hit us.”
Information regarding Hamza’s whereabouts and personal life remain scarce. In 2017, the CIA released a video of his wedding. The footage shows a shy man in his early 20s. Intelligence officers believe the wedding took place in Iran—which would be somewhat strange, since Iran is a Shia Muslim country and the bin Ladens are Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia. Other reports have Hamza somewhere in the Pakistani Tribal Areas, which skirt the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
“We do believe he’s probably in the Afghan-Pakistan border [sic] and… he’ll cross into Iran. But he could be anywhere though in…south central Asia,” said Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff of the State Department.
In August 2015, Hamza released an audio message on an al-Qaeda blog calling for Muslims to attack Western targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S as part of a jihad. The call to arms was widely published and shared on extremist social media accounts.
According to documents seized by SEAL Team 6 operators during the Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) process of Operation Neptune Spear, Osama had been preparing his son to replace him as leader of the terrorist group.
Since Osama’s demise, Ayman al-Zawahiri is running al-Qaeda. But the middle-aged Egyptian terrorist doesn’t appear to be as charismatic as his predecessor.
Using Twitter, the State Department issued a Rewards for Justice call: “WANTED. Up to $1 million for information on Hamza bin Laden, an emerging al-Qa’ida leader. Hamza is son of Usama bin Laden, and has threatened attacks against the United States and allies. Relocation possible. Submit a tip, get paid.”
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