Trump confirms death of Al-Qaeda heir Hamza bin Laden

Saturday, September 14, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed that Hamza bin Laden, the son and designated heir of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

US media reported more than a month ago, citing intelligence officials, that the younger Bin Laden had been killed sometime in the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said last month that it was "his understanding" that Bin Laden, who was thought to be about 30, was dead.

But Trump had not publicly confirmed the news until Saturday -- three days after the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks by Al-Qaeda, and a week after Trump's surprise announcement that a planned secret meeting with Taliban leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat had fallen through.

"Hamza bin Laden, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region," Trump said in a brief statement issued by the White House.

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father but undermines important operational activities of the group."

The statement did not specify the timing of the operation, how his long-rumoured death had been confirmed, or even specifically in which country it occurred.

US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, welcomed the development, saying on Twitter that it sent "a strong signal that America never forgets and we will go wherever the terrorists take us to protect our homeland".

Hamza, the 15th of Osama bin Laden's 20 children and a son of his third wife, was "emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise," the State Department said in announcing a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019.

 


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