The US believes late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden is dead, a US official told CNN on Wednesday.
The official said the US had a role in his death but did not provide details. The official added that the US government recently received evidence that it believes corroborates his death.
The New York Times reported that Hamza bin Laden had been killed in an operation within the last two years.
Earlier this year the US State Department called bin Laden, who is believed to be in his early 30s, an “emerging” leader in the terror group al Qaeda, offering a million-dollar reward for information leading to his capture.
The New York Times, citing two US officials, said “the United States government had a role in the operation that killed the younger Mr. bin Laden, but it was not clear precisely what that role was.”
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said one thing is puzzling researchers who are closely tracking al Qaeda: “If Hamza bin Laden has indeed been dead for months, you would expect al Qaeda to have released some form of eulogy before today. The fact they haven’t is highly unusual, given his status in the group.”
When the US government offered the reward it accused the Saudi Arabia-born Hamza bin Laden of seeking to encourage attacks against the US.
While The New York Times said the operation that killed him took place prior to the State Department’s reward offer, his death had yet to be confirmed by the US government.
Hamza bin Laden “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 US military forces,” the State Department said in its announcement offering the reward.
NBC News was first to report that the US government had assessed Hamza bin Laden to be dead.
President Donald Trump declined to comment Wednesday when asked about the reports. The Department of Defense also declined to comment.
The State Department said items seized from the elder bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan during the Navy SEAL raid that resulted in his death indicated he was grooming Hamza bin Laden to replace him as al Qaeda’s leader.
He married the daughter of a senior al Qaeda leader who was charged by a federal grand jury for his role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.
Saudi Arabia revoked Hamza bin Laden’s citizenship, official newspaper Um al-Qura reported earlier this year, citing a royal order issued to the Interior Ministry.