As the bearer of the world’s most notorious terrorist name, Hamza bin Laden had a pedigree as jihadist royalty and was being groomed as a rising star to revive al Qaeda.
A favourite son of Osama bin Laden, his lineage saw him nicknamed the Crown Prince of Jihad.
His credentials as a jihadist force appeared to be strengthened earlier this year when the US put a $1m reward on his head and Saudi Arabia removed his citizenship.
But there was also scepticism about his leadership potential and whether he held much value to the terrorist network beyond name recognition and propaganda value.
disclosure by American officials that the 30-year-old is believed to have been killed sometime in the first two years of Donald Trump’s administration is likely to be a symbolic rather than practical blow, counter terrorism analysts predicted.” data-reactid=”21″>The disclosure by American officials that the 30-year-old is believed to have been killed sometime in the first two years of Donald Trump’s administration is likely to be a symbolic rather than practical blow, counter terrorism analysts predicted.
“I don’t think it makes a difference in practical terms,” said Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute.
“The removal of a guy who has not particularly done anything is not going to really move the dial.”
Bin Laden’s death would however undermine attempts to update the image of the network, with a new generation of younger leadership. Al Qaeda is still led by an ageing cadre of veteran jihadists around Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The group has been trying to capitalise on the destruction of Islamic State group’s caliphate to again become the world’s pre-eminent jihadist group.
American officials gave no details of where or when he was killed, only saying it had been under Donald Trump’s presidency and before the reward was put on his head in March. At the time the reward was issued, officials had not confirmed his death. Officials had previously said he may be hiding in Afghanistan.
Hamza is believed to be the 15th of bin Laden’s 20-odd children and spent his early childhood with his parents, first in Saudi Arabia and then in Sudan and Afghanistan in the 1990s.
After the 9/11 attacks, when bin Laden became the world’s most wanted man, he sent several wives and children to live in Iran, for safety, including Hamza.