Osama bin Laden's son Hamza is dead: White House

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Hamza bin Laden, believed to be about 30 years old, was killed in a US counter-terrorism operation. PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS/BLOOMBERG) - Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, was killed in a US counter-terrorism operation, the White House said on Saturday (Sept 14).

A White House statement said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

"The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa'ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the statement said.

A US official told Reuters Hamza had been killed months ago near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump was briefed at the time on the operation.

The US government assessed that Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, had succeeded his father as the head of what remains of Al Qaeda, the official said.

Hamza was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The elder Bin Laden used a family inheritance to build the global terrorist network. Hamza was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups, US President Donald Trump said in a statement.

He also spent time with his father in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

The US State Department designated Hamza a global terrorist in 2017 after he called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for killing his father.

Reuters reported on July 31 that Hamza had been killed, citing a US official with knowledge of the matter. But Saturday's statement represents the first time the US government has confirmed the operation.

The US military often takes weeks or months before confirming the death of a person of interest.

It was unclear why the White House decided to publicise information about Hamza's death on Saturday months after the operation.

The State Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.as the head of what remains of Al Qaeda, the official said.

Trump's move to announce the death now comes as he's seeking to show progress in fighting terrorists in the region, after breaking off negotiations with the Taleban in Afghanistan a week ago.

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