The U.S. government is expected to make an announcement shortly about Hamza bin Laden, the son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a U.S. official said on Wednesday after NBC News reported the United States has intelligence the son is dead.
The U.S. official provided no further details. Earlier, NBC News cited three U.S. officials as saying that the United States had obtained intelligence that Hamza bin Laden is dead, saying that they would not provide details of where or when he died, or whether the United States played a role in his death.
Asked earlier if he had intelligence that bin Laden's son had been killed, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters: "I don't want to comment on it." Separately, the White House declined comment on whether any an announcement was imminent.
Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and spent time with him in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.
Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011. Hamza was thought to be under house arrest in Iran at the time, and documents recovered from the compound indicated that aides had been trying to reunite him with his father.
Introduced by al Qaeda's chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message in 2015, Hamza provides a younger voice for the group whose aging leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world galvanized by Islamic State, analysts say.
Hamza has called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for his father's killing, the U.S. State Department said in 2017 when it designated him as a global terrorist.
He also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged Saudi tribes to unite with Yemen's Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to fight against Saudi Arabia, it said.
The State Department had previously offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading "to the identification or location in any country" of Hamza, calling him a key al Qaeda leader.
In March, Saudi Arabia announced it had stripped Hamza bin Laden of his citizenship, saying the decision was made by a royal order in November, 2018.
© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
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