The United States added Hamza bin Laden, son and would-be heir of the late global jihadist leader Osama bin Laden, to its terrorist blacklist on Thursday.
Hamza, who is in his mid-twenties, has become active as an Al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death at the hands of US special forces on May 2, 2011.
According to letters found in the Navy SEAL raid on Osama’s hideout in Pakistan, Hamza wrote to the Saudi-born Al-Qaeda leader asking to be trained to follow him.
A CIA analyst who examined the letters told AFP that, in July 2009, when Hamza wrote to his father’s Abbottabad hideout, they had not seen each other for eight years.
But the elder bin Laden was making plans to send for his son, who was at the time under house arrest in Iran, and planned to groom him to become Al-Qaeda’s leader.
Since bin Laden’s death, his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has taken up the reins of the organization, but Hamza has also issued audio messages to supporters.
Last year, the fifth anniversary of the death of the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks on the United States, experts began to note the young heir’s increasing prominence in the movement.
The US Treasury sanctions list estimates that Hamza was born in 1989 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. His mother was Khairiah Sabar, one of bin Laden senior’s three wives.
The State Department order names Hamza bin Laden as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” and freezes any assets he may hold in areas under US jurisdiction.
The department also designated Ibrahim al-Banna, whom it described as a senior leader in Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.