Osama bin Laden is dead and gone but his son is perhaps ready for holding the reins of his father’s terror group, Al Qaeda.
No one has seen a grown up Hamza bin Laden but his message released via audio on August 18 (August 17 EST) sends down a chilling reminder that the war on terror is far from over.
According to SITE Intelligence Group, Hamza, who is either 23 or 24, urged the people of Saudi Arabia to “overthrow” the rulers and “unshackle” themselves from US influence.
Exactly when did Hamza deliver the message and where is not known. What is known is that the message is recent suggesting that Hamza has been groomed by Osama’s terror group as a future leader.
In his message, Hamza is heard exhorting Saudis to side with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and “gain the necessary experience” to spread terrorist activities.
AQAP is an Al Qaeda group in Yemen and is currently engaged in fighting Shi’ite Houthi rebels. It should be noted here that Saudi Arabian forces too are fighting the Houthi largely because of the Shia-Sunni rivalry. Yet Saudi Arabian forces are reportedly also targeting the jihadists in Yemen. In 1994, Saudi Arabia had stripped Yemen-born Saudi citizen Osama of his nationality following the latter’s criticism of the royal family.
A young Hamza with Osama.
According to US intelligence officials, Osama himself wanted Hamza to succeed him. Osama was killed on May 2, 2011 in Abottabad in Pakistan in a top secret operation conducted by US Navy SEALS.
Analysts point out that Hamza’s popularity is increasing faster than that of the current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. There could be many reasons behind it including Hamza’s bloodline and his age.
Hamza also spoke on global jihad issues and called for continued resistance in Palestine and Syria.
SITE director Rita Katz tweeted:
Classified by the United States as the network’s deadliest franchise, AQAP was formed in January 2009 as a merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al-Qaeda. Yemen is the ancestral home of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan in 2011 by an elite team of US Navy SEALS after a decade on the run.