Sometime the apple, as the saying goes, doesn’t fall far from the tree. And to see an example of that, look no further than Hamza bin Laden, the son of, you guessed it, Osama. Yesterday, the twenty-something was blacklisted by the US State Department for his ties to extremism. This will block him from engaging in any financial transactions either in the US or with Americans. Sort of like a one-man embargo. Hamza is the leader of al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula operations. In 2015, he was declared as a member of the group by Ayman Zawahiri, who has headed the group’s operations since Bin Laden’s death in 2011.
According to Fawaz Gerges, an expert on Middle Eastern politics, Hamza was a “charismatic” leader, and “popular with the rank and file”. He was his father’s favorite son, and in the past ten years there was much talk about him succeeding his father. Not surprisingly, the media has had a field day with young Hamza, labeling him the “crown prince of terror”, and many have speculated if he’ll succeed Zawahiri as the leader of al-Qaeda. He pledge revenge against the US, promising he would continue attacking them in retribution for their actions in the Middle East and beyond.
Even though he had to share him with over 20 siblings, Hamza was close with his father, and was in featured in al-Qaeda propaganda videos as a child. After the death of his brother Sa’ad in 2009, Hamza was being groomed to succeed his father, although he was not at the Pakistan compound during the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed his father and brother Khalid. His role as a potential successor to Osama has made him an inspirational figure to jihadists, and his relatively young age could make him appeal to younger generations of terrorists.