U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday that Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's son and himself a notable figure in the militant group, Hamza bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. operation in the "Afghanistan/Pakistan region."
A White House statement said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al-Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the statement said.
Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He also spent time with his father in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.
The U.S. 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 U.S. official with knowledge of the matter. But Saturday's statement represents the first time the U.S. government has confirmed the operation.
Trump declined to comment after NBC News first reported the U.S. assessment. Asked if he had intelligence that bin Laden's son had been killed, Trump told reporters: "I don't want to comment on it."
Separately, the White House declined comment on whether any announcement was imminent.
Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan in 2011. Hamza was thought to be under house arrest in Iran at the time, and documents recovered from the compound indicated that aides had been trying to reunite him with his father.
The New York Times reported that the United States had a role in the operation that led to Hamza's death, which it said took place in the past two years. Reuters could not immediately verify those details.
In February, the State Department said it was offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading "to the identification or location in any country" of Hamza, calling him a key Al-Qaida leader.
Introduced by Al-Qaida's chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message in 2015, Hamza provided a younger voice for the group whose aging leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world galvanized by Islamic State, according to analysts.
Hamza has called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for his father's killing, the U.S. State Department said in 2017 when it designated him as a global terrorist.
He also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged tribal groups in Saudi Arabia to unite with Yemen's Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to fight against Saudi Arabia, it said.
In March, Saudi Arabia announced it had stripped Hamza bin Laden of his citizenship, saying the decision was made by a royal order in November 2018.
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