There’s hardly any need for introduction. Hamza Bin Laden is the son of Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Islamist group, Al Qaeda who was killed in a US Seal raid in May 2011.
On Thursday, 5 January 2016, the US Department made public a notice designating Hamza Bin Laden as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The US public and indeed, the rest of the world has been warned through this notice that Hamza Bin Laden is actively engaged in terrorism.
So who really is Hamza Bin Laden?
The US Department of State notice states his year of birth as 1989 meaning he is 27 years old, although all earlier reports about Hamza in 2016 put his age at 23/24. He is the youngest of the 24 children of the late Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. He was born in Saudi Arabian city, Jeddah.
Hamza Bin Laden’s name first made news globally when he was reported to have escaped the raid on their home in Abbottabad, Pakistani, that led to the death of his father, his older brother Khalid and eventual arrest of three of his father’s wives, including his (Hamza) mother, Khairiah Sabar. It is not known whether he was home during the raid but he remained unaccounted for weeks after. His identity had the US government confused as they had initially reported that it was Hamza who was killed in the raid with his father. It was later discovered that it was 22-year-old Khalid who lost his life instead.
This event shed spotlight on Hamza’s life and it was found that he had published a poem on an extremist website to mark the third anniversary of the July 7 train bombings that claimed 52 lives in London. A number of UK newspapers published the translation of Hamza’s poem where he called for “the destruction of America, Britain, France and Denmark“.
Although not widely reported, it was later revealed that at the time of the raid on his father’s home, Hamza was living in Peshawar, a metropolitan city in Pakistan. But he was not living as a free man. Hamza was in a safe house where he was being groomed to take over as leader of Al Qaeda. The US government happened on this piece of information from documents that were recovered by Osama’s home after the raid. The content of the documents also revealed that Osama was concerned about the safety of Hamza and his mother, “Regarding my son Hamzah and his mother, I wish you take all the security precautions that were mentioned before in order to disrupt surveillance on him. He should move only when the clouds are heavy.”
Not much was heard of Hamza Bin Laden until 2015 when Al Qaeda released an audio message via Twitter, where he urged jihadists to carry out “lone wolf attacks on the United States and the West, marking London, Washington, Paris, Israel and Tel Aviv as specific targets”.
Following this message, the US government said: “On August 14, 2015 Hamza bin Laden, son of Usama bin Laden, was officially announced by al-Qa’ida senior leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as an official member of the group.”
One year later, in July 2016, the media arm of Al Qaeda released a similar message where Hamza threatened that the group will continue to wage holy war against the US for its “oppression” of Muslims. He said in the clip, “If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong“. He also said that the US will be targeted in 9/11-style attacks.
Known to be Osama’s most militant son, Hamza had a cordial relationship with his father while he was alive. According to a Telegraph report in 2015, one of the exchanges between father and son revealed that Hamza had gotten married at an early age. He wrote in a letter in 2009:
“My beloved father, I was separated from you when I was a small child, not yet 13, but I am older now, and have attained manhood. You might not recognize me when you meet me, as my features have changed. Praise God, I live a stable life, and God has blessed me with a pious wife, and she has blessed me with a son who I gave your name, Usamah, and a daughter who I named after the mother, Khayriyah“.
The ages of Hamza’s two children and the possibility of them having other siblings is not known but what is certain is that this heir apparent, Hamza may be already raising his own heir to the Al Qaeda throne especially considering his remark in the 2016 message to the US. Hamza Bin Laden said: “We are all Osama“.