Another Osama bin Laden son is apparently dead. The story broke after two US officials told NBC News that Hamza bin Laden, a likely successor to lead al-Qaeda one day, had died—but no details. Now officials say Osama's heir died between 2017 and 2019 and the US government had a hand in it, per the New York Times. Seems he died before the State Department offered $1 million for clues to his location in February, but US intelligence and military agencies hadn't yet confirmed his demise. Born about 30 years ago, Hamza bin Laden was being groomed to lead al-Qaeda after his father was killed in a SEAL Team 6 raid in Pakistan in 2011.
Hamza also appeared in audio and video messages calling on followers to strike the US and its Western allies, per CNN—but those stopped appearing months ago. One expert placed Hamza on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as al-Qaeda prepared the jihadist, who at least had name value, for future leadership: "They were building him up to potentially be the No. 1 someday; he was not thought of as the heir apparent today," says Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The US has already ravaged al-Qaeda by killings its operatives, including two other bin Laden sons, Saad in 2009 and Khalid in the 2011 Pakistan raid. The CIA is still seeking Ayman al-Zawahri, who grabbed al-Qaeda's reins after Osama bin Laden was killed. (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)