How Osama bin Laden's son Hamza rose through the ranks of the infamous terror family

Hamza has appeared in Taliban footage as a child as young as 11. Photo / Screengrab
Hamza has appeared in Taliban footage as a child as young as 11. Photo / Screengrab

Osama bin Laden had 23 children but only one was chosen to avenge his death. Hamza bin Laden just declared a "holy war" against America. Hamza, the youngest son of the deceased former al Qaeda leader, has been recorded issuing new threats against America.

In a video released by Islamic media organisation As-Sahab on Saturday, Hamza declares there will be revenge for the death of his father and for the "oppression" of Muslims in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. "We Are All Osama," he said.

"We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.

"If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong."

The "sinful crime" he refers to took place on May 2, 2011, at a Pakistani compound where bin Laden Sr was hiding. US Navy SEALs raided the home shortly before 1am, killing the 54-year-old and several members of his family, before dumping his body at sea. Hamza, believed to be in his mid-20s, was not at the residence at the time. He had been separated from his father but always maintained strong ties to the family and to its objectives.

Hamza grew up with fighting in his blood. He was filmed fighting among the Taliban as an 11-year-old in 2001, the same year his father executed the worst terror attack on American soil.

Despite his youth, Hamza was being groomed for leadership. Documents found in Osama bin Laden's compound when it was raided revealed that he was training his youngest son to one day take the reins of the terror group.

Since 2001, Hamza has appeared in a number of videos. In 2005, he was filmed during fighting between al Qaeda and Pakistani security forces in south Waziristan. By 2007, it was believed he had taken on a more senior role. A year later, he made his first public speech on behalf of the terror group. In it, he called on fighters to "accelerate the destruction" of allies nations fighting against al Qaeda.

Footage of a young Hamza bin Laden shows him leading fighters of a similar age through a series of chants and participating in training on an outdoor obstacle course. In 2009, Hamza wrote letters to his father. He expressed a longing for the pair to be reunited. It's not clear if they ever got that chance.

"My beloved father, I was separated from you when I was a small child, not yet 13, but I am older now, and have attained manhood," he wrote, according to Reuters.
"But what truly makes me sad," he added, "is the Mujahidin legions have marched and I have not joined them."

In 2015, he was behind a separate video calling for lone wolf attacks against the West. In the recording, he specified that targets should include global cities Washington, Paris, London and Tel Aviv.

SITE Intelligence group translated parts of the message. They said Hamza praised the Fort Hood shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing and labelled US President Barack Obama "the black chief of the criminal gang in the White House".

Hamza is the youngest son of Osama and Khairiah Sabar. His mother was living at the Abbottabad compound when US forces launched "Operation Geronimo".

He wasn't always next in line to take over from his father. Hamza's brother Sa'ad was groomed to lead and even took on a prominent role within the terror group. Like his father, the 29-year-old was killed by Americans. A drone strike in 2009 claimed his life, paving the way from Hamza to step into his big brother's shoes.

For young fighters looking to join Al-Qaeda, Hamza's increasing public presence is a lightning rod. Bruce Riedel from the Brookings Institute told Reuters: "Hamza provides a new face for Al-Qaeda, one that directly connects to the group's founder. He is an articulate and dangerous enemy."

- news.com.au

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