Hamza Bin Laden CREDIT CIA

Hamza Bin Laden Killed In US Counter-Terrorism Operation, White House Says

Hamza bin Laden had gained popularity and power in al-Qaeda.

Hamza Bin Laden CREDIT CIA

Library picture of Hamza bin Laden (Picture: CIA).

White House officials have revealed the son of the former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been killed in a US counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Hamza bin Laden had become an increasingly prominent figure in the terrorist organisation behind the 9/11 attacks.

A statement from US officials gave no further details such as when bin Laden was killed or how authorities were able to confirm his death.

The White House said Hamza bin Laden's death "not only deprives al Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group".

As leader of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and others plotted the attacks of 11 September 2001.

US Navy SEALs killed the elder bin Laden in a raid on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.

Hamza was the son of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (pictured above).

Several US officials had suspected this summer that Hamza bin Laden was dead, based on intelligence reports and the fact that he had not been heard from in some time.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in late August that it was his understanding that Hamza bin Laden was dead.

The younger bin Laden had been viewed as an eventual heir to the leadership of al-Qaida, and the group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, had praised him in a 2015 video that appeared on jihadi websites, calling him a "lion from the den of al-Qaida".

The US government said it was offering $1 million (£803,900) for help tracking down Hamza bin Laden as part of the state department's Rewards for Justice scheme back in February.

The department said he was married to a daughter of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an Egyptian al-Qaida leader charged over his role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa.

They were said to have two children, Osama and Khairiah, named after his parents.

A picture of Hamza bin Laden released by the US forces (Picture: US Department of Defense).

He was named a "specially designated global terrorist" in January 2017, and he had released audio and video messages calling for attacks against the US and its allies.

To mark one 9/11 anniversary, al-Qaida superimposed a childhood photo of him over an image of the World Trade Center.

Video released by the CIA in 2017 that was seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden showed Hamza bin Laden with a trimmed moustache but no beard at his wedding.

Previous images have only shown him as a child.

Hamza bin Laden is believed to have been born in 1989, the year of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, where his father became known among the mujahideen fighters.

In recent years, Hamza had been featured in al-Qaida messages, delivering speeches on everything from the war in Syria to Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as President.

He had not been heard from since a message in March 2018, in which he threatened the rulers of Saudi Arabia.