One of the sons of the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is emerging as the new leader of the militant group, according to the State Department.
The United States is offering a reward for information on Hamza bin Laden, thought to be about 30-years-old and based near the Afghan-Pakistan border, of $1 million.
The State Department’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program posted the reward on its website late Thursday. “He has released audio and video messages on the Internet, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces,” it said in a statement.
Hamza bin Laden is married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker and a mastermind of al-Qaeda’s September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Hamza’s father Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011. According to letters found by the Navy Seals during the raid on his hideout in Pakistan, Hamza wrote to the Saudi-born al-Qaeda leader asking to be trained to follow him. The letters indicate Osama bin Laden was grooming Hamza to replace him.
The United Nations Security Council added Hamza bin Laden to its sanctions list on Thursday, meaning that he is now subject to an assets freeze and travel ban.
Two years ago the CIA released a massive trove of files that were found on a computer in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Audio and video footage included with these documents appeared to indicate that Hamza bin Laden’s wedding was held in Iran, according to an analysis by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank based in Washington.
Michael Evanoff, an assistant secretary for diplomatic security at the State Department, said that while Hamza bin Laden is likely hiding near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan he may try to cross into Iran or even head toward south central Asia.
“He could be anywhere, though,” he said in a Thursday press briefing.
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