Trump confirms Osama bin Laden's son Hamza killed in U.S. operation

NBC News first reported in July that the U.S. had obtained intelligence the son and potential successor of the al Qaeda leader was dead.

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By Max Burman

Hamza bin Laden, the son and potential successor of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation, President Donald Trump confirmed Saturday.

He was killed in an operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the White House said in a statement.

His death will not only deprive al Qaeda "of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the statement said.

He "was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups," it added.

NBC News first reported in July that the U.S. had obtained intelligence Hamza was killed, based on information from three U.S. officials.

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The death occurred some time in the past two years, said the officials, but confirmation came only recently.

Hamza bin Laden's last known public statement was released by al Qaeda's media arm in 2018. In that message, he threatened Saudi Arabia and called on the people of the Arabian peninsula to revolt.

Hamza bin Laden is believed to have been born around 1989. His father moved to Afghanistan in 1996 and declared war against the U.S.

Hamza went with him and appeared in al Qaeda propaganda videos. As leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden oversaw operations against Western targets that culminated in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 during a raid on his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound. Hamza was not found at the compound. Letters seized from the compound suggested the elder bin Laden wanted his son to join him in Abbottabad and was grooming him as a leader.

A United Nations report published last year noted that Hamza bin Laden "continued to emerge as a leadership figure in al-Qaida." It suggested both he and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden's death, "are reported to be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas."

Courtney Kube contributed.