Hamza bin Laden, the son of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, is dead, reports MSNBC, citing several unnamed senior U.S. officials. According to The New York Times, the younger al-Qaeda figure was killed “in the past two years” in an operation in which the United States “had a role.”
Hamza is seen as the heir apparent to his father’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. His death not only complicates al-Qaeda’s leadership plans after the eventual demise of the 68-year-old al-Zawahiri, but may also point toward some sort of a grand bargain emerging from the ongoing U.S.-Taliban negotiations heading into their final stretch.
Neither MSNBC nor The New York Times specify where and when Hamza bin Laden was killed, and by whom. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Hamza bin Laden was believed to be located in one of four countries: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, or Syria.
The timing of the reports about Hamza bin Laden’s death is curious. Talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban are set to resume this week, with both sides closing in on a deal. The Taliban have been allied with al-Qaeda for over two decades, though the transnational terror network has been a liability for the Afghan insurgent movement. The United States has demanded that the Taliban sever ties with al-Qaeda. At the same time, the Trump administration may also feel compelled to demonstrate to the American public that its impending withdrawal from Afghanistan will not come at the risk of the security of the United States.