US offers $1 million reward to find bin Laden's son

By AFP
Published: March 1, 2019
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Osama bin Laden. PHOTO: AFP

Osama bin Laden. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday offered a $1 million reward for information on a son of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, seeing him as an emerging face of extremism.

The location of Hamza bin Laden has been the subject of speculation for years with speculative reports of him living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria or under house arrest in Iran.

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“Hamza bin Laden is the son of deceased former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and is emerging as a leader in the group franchise,” said a State Department statement.

The State Department said it would offer $1 million for information leading to his location in any country.

Bin Laden, who according to the United States is around 30, has threatened attacks against the US to avenge the 2011 killing of his father, who was living in hiding in Pakistan’s Abbottabad town, by US special forces.

US intelligence agencies increasingly see the younger bin Laden as a successor to his father for the mantle of global terrorism, especially as the even more extreme Islamic State group is down to its last sliver of land in Syria.

In 2015, bin Laden released an audio message urging militants in Syria to unite, claiming that the fight in the war-torn country paves the way to “liberating Palestine.”

And in a message a year later, following in the footsteps of his father, he urged the overthrow of the leadership in their native Saudi Arabia.

Osama bin Laden’s three surviving wives and his children were quietly allowed to return to Saudi Arabia after his killing.

But Hamza bin Laden’s whereabouts have been a matter of dispute. He is believed to have spent years along with his mother in Iran.

Observers say the clerical regime in Tehran kept him under house arrest as a way to maintain pressure on rival Saudi Arabia as well as on al Qaeda.

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One of Hamza bin Laden’s half-brothers told The Guardian last year that Hamza’s whereabouts were unknown but that he may be in Afghanistan.

He also said that Hamza bin Laden married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the US that killed some 3,000 people and sparked the US intervention in Afghanistan.

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