The US has intensified its hunt for Hamza bin Laden, the son of the former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (pic), who was killed during a secret mission by a US special task force in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.
US Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael T. Evanoff and Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan A. Sales briefed journalists Thursday at the State Department’s Foreign Press Centre.
“Today the US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice programme is offering a reward of up to US$1 million for information leading to the identification or location in any country of the Al-Qaeda leader Hamza bin Laden … (who) is emerging as a leader in the AQ franchise,” said Evanoff.
He said that letters, reportedly written by Osama and seized from the Abbottabad compound where he was killed by US service members indicated that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as a leader in Al-Qaeda.
“Since at least August 2015, Hamza has released audio and video messages on the internet calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the killing of his father,” said Evanoff.
The State Department designated Hamza on Jan 5, 2017 as a specifically designated global terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the United States’ resolve to use all its available tools to counter terrorism and to hold Al-Qaida and its leaders accountable for their actions,” said Evanoff.
The Rewards for Justice programme, designed as a tool in the fight against international terrorism, has paid out a sum in excess of US$150 million to more than 100 individuals who provided information to help bring terrorists to justice.
“In recent years, the world’s attention understandably has been focused on the Isis (Daesh) threat. Al-Qaeda, during this period, has been relatively quiet, but that is a strategic pause, not a surrender. Make no mistake, Al-Qaeda retains both the capability and the intent to hit us,” said Sales.
Al-Qaeda’s worst attack was on Sept 11, 2001, when 19 of its members hijacked and crashed four US commercial jets - two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and the last one onto a field in Pennsylvania - killing nearly 3,000 US and foreign civilians, police, and first responders.