Surge Summary: Official reports have broken that Hamza bin Laden — son and heir apparent successor to the late 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden — has been killed in a U.S. counterterroism operation.
We got bin Laden. One of the other ones, that is.
Zeke Miller/Associated Press reports:
The White House announced Saturday that Hamza bin Laden , the son of the late al-Qaida leader who had become an increasingly prominent figure in the terrorist organization, was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
A three-sentence White House statement — issued in President Donald Trump’s name, three days after the nineteenth anniversary of the terror attack on America that was orchestrated by the younger bin Laden’s father, Osama bin Laden — gave no additional details, such as when or how Hamza was killed; or how his demise was finally confirmed.
The White House statement said Hamza bin Laden’s death “not only deprives al-Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group.” It said Osama bin Laden’s son “was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.”
Though some had previously suspected Hamza bin Laden was dead — one anonymous U.S. official familiar with the case said his death had occurred sometime over the past 18 months – no official statement had been issued heretofore because of the need for further confirmation.
The younger bin Laden had been viewed as an eventual heir to the leadership of al-Qaida, and the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, had praised him in a 2015 video that appeared on jihadi websites, calling him a “lion from the den of al-Qaida.” …
Since then, Hamza had been featured in al-Qaida messages, delivering speeches on everything from the war in Syria to Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.
Bin Laden’s death leaves Zawahiri with the challenge of finding a different successor.
In February, as part of the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, the U.S. government offered $1 million for help tracking down the alleged thirty-year-old bin Ladin who was married and said to be father of a son and daughter.
He was named a “specially designated global terrorist” in January 2017, and he had released audio and video messages calling for attacks against the U.S. and its allies. To mark one 9/11 anniversary, al-Qaida superimposed a childhood photo of him over a photo of the World Trade Center.
Hamza bin Laden began appearing in militant videos and recordings in 2015 as an al-Qaida spokesman.
“If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong,” he said in his first audio recording.
When, following the 9/11 attacks, a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan sought to topple Taliban ally al-Qaida and seize the elder bin Laden, young Hamza fled. He parted from his family, crossing into Pakistan.
In May of 2011, U.S. Navy Seals discovered and killed Osama bin Ladin in a raid on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It appears now the U.S. has been involved in a successful initiative to take down his son and, putatively, would-be successor.
American officials have allowed that some clues suggest the CIA, not the U.S. military, had been the instrument which carried out this successful strike. The Agency, as would be expected, declined comment on that question.
So … perhaps it’s a good thing the U.S. presence hasn’t been reduced to zero the past year or two? Our national security forces, on some meaningful level, are presumably still at work in that beleaguered South Asian nation and region, carrying out necessary work.
The value of ongoing, aggressive American efforts against the organs of Islamic terrorism abroad is underscored by this big news: Another prominent jihadist removed from the field of battle.
H/T: Zeke Miller/Associated Press
Image: Screen Shot; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFcYbcbt608