U.S. believes Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza is dead: official

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) – The United States believes that Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, is dead, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided no further details, including when Hamza died or where.

President Donald Trump earlier on Wednesday 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.

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 and spent time with him in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda’s senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

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.

Still, the U.S. government’s conclusion appears to be a recent one. 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 Qaeda leader.

Introduced by al Qaeda’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 Qaeda 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.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Howard Goller, Alistair Bell, Phil Stewart and G Crosse)

Saudi Arabia strips Osama bin Laden’s son of citizenship; U.S. offers million dollar reward

A photograph circulated by the U.S. State Department’s Twitter account to announce a $1 million USD reward for al Qaeda key leader Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, is seen March 1, 2019. State Department/Handout via REUTERS

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has stripped citizenship from Hamza bin Laden, the son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the interior ministry said in a statement published by the official gazette.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday 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 Qaeda leader.

Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father’s side in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks and spent time with him in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan pushed much of al Qaeda&rsqu’s senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

Introduced by the organization’s new chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message in 2015, Hamza provides a younger voice for the group whose aging leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world galvanized by Islamic State, analysts say.

He has called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened to take revenge against the United States for his father’s killing, the State Department said in 2017 when it designated him as a global terrorist.

He also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged Saudi tribes to unite with Yemen’s Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to fight against Saudi Arabia, it said.

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 Saudi decision to strip him of his citizenship was made by a royal order in November, according to a statement published in the Um al-Qura official journal.

(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch and Stephen Kalin; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Andrew Heavens)

Senior Yemen Qaeda leader calls for knife and car attacks on Jews

Defying warnings of new conflict, Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital

DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior leader of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch has called for knife and car attacks on Jews in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the U.S. SITE monitoring group said on Tuesday.

Citing a video recording by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s al-Malahem media foundation, SITE said that Khaled Batarfi, believed to be the number two man in AQAP after Qassim al-Raymi, also warned that no Muslim had the right to cede any part of Jerusalem.

“The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes,” Batarfi said in the 18-minute-long recording entitled “Our duty towards our Jerusalem”, according to SITE.

“Every Muslim must know that the Americans and the disbeliever West, and on top of them Britain and France, are the original reason behind the existence of the Jews in Palestine.”

Trump enraged Muslims last month when he announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he intends to transfer the U.S. embassy there.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a regional visit, said on Monday that the U.S. Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv before the end of 2019.

Batarfi was one of some 150 jailed AQAP members who were freed when the militant group, regarded by the United States as one of the deadliest branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, captured the Yemeni port city of Mukalla in 2015, where he was held.

Yemeni forces, baked by a Saudi-led coalition have since recaptured Mukalla and driven AQAP out, but Batarfi, who has since assumed a senior position in the group, remains at large.

AQAP has plotted to down U.S. airliners and claimed responsibility for 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. AQAP also has boasted of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and the Pentagon estimates it has between about 2,000 and 3,000 fighters.

Batarfi said Muslims in Western countries, including the United States, were obliged to target the interests of Jews and the Americans.

“They must be eager to prepare themselves as much as possible, and to carry out jihadi operations against them,” he added, according to SITE.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, including the walled Old City with its holy sites, as the capital of their own future state. Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it in 1967 in a move not internationally recognized, regards all of the city as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi)

U.S. portrays NY bomb suspect as jihadist who praised bin Laden

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel search an address during an investigation into Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was wanted for questioning in an explosion in New York, which authorities believe is linked to the explosive devices found in New Jersey

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged the Afghan-born man suspected of weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey with 10 counts including use of weapons of mass destruction, portraying him as a jihadist who begged for martyrdom and praised Osama bin Laden.

The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, bought bomb components on eBay, made a video of himself testing out homemade explosives, and kept a journal expressing outrage at the U.S. “slaughter” of mujahideen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, federal officials allege.

“Inshallah (God willing), the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to your
oppression,” Rahami, who came to the United States at age 7, wrote in a journal he was carrying when arrested.

Rahami was apprehended on Monday in Linden, New Jersey, after a shootout with police that left him with multiple gunshot wounds. He was listed in critical but stable condition on Tuesday, and police had not yet been able to interview him in depth, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Federal prosecutors from separate districts in New York and New Jersey charged him with four and six counts respectively.

In addition to leaving the bomb that exploded on Saturday evening in the Manhattan district of Chelsea that wounded 31 people, they allege he planted a pipe bomb on the New Jersey shore that injured no one when it exploded on Saturday morning.

He also is accused of planting another pressure-cooker bomb in Chelsea that failed to explode, and multiple devices at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of those exploded as a bomb squad robot attempted to defuse it.

The charging documents and accompanying sworn statements from Federal Bureau of Investigation agents offer the first official explanation of what they believe to be the bomber’s motive.

As the charges were made public, the White House for the first time said it appeared the attacks were an act of
terrorism. Earlier in the investigation, officials had withheld such an assessment until they could discern a motive.

“It does appear this was an act of terrorism,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during a press briefing in New York City.

At least one victim in the Chelsea blast was knocked unconscious and another hospitalized to remove ball bearings
from her body, metal fragmentation from her ear and wood shards from her neck, the charging documents say.

Surveillance video from the bomb scenes and fingerprints on unexploded devices also point to Rahami, according to the documents.

The three counts of using weapons of mass destruction, one from New York and two from New Jersey, each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In addition to the federal charges, New Jersey state prosecutors from Union County have charged Rahami with five
counts of attempted first-degree murder for firing at police officers and two second-degree weapons counts.

JIHADI JOURNAL

Other parts of Rahami’s journal praise “Brother” Osama bin Laden; Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric and leading al Qaeda propagandist who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011; and Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who shot dead 13 people and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

“I beg … for shahadat (martyrdom) and inshallah this call will be answered,” he wrote in a passage expressing concern about getting caught.

Video found on a family member’s mobile phone dated two days before the bombings and taken near his home in New Jersey showed him lighting a fuse that igniting incendiary material packed in a partially buried cylinder.

An eBay account linked to Rahami bought a precursor chemical used in explosives, circuit boards and ball bearings that matched the explosives and remnants collected at the crime scenes, the documents said.

Investigators also traced mobile phones used in the bombs to Rahami and said he played jihadist videos from social media.

Earlier on Tuesday Rahami’s father said he had reported concerns about his son being involved with militants to the Federal Bureau of Investigations two years ago.

The FBI acknowledged it had investigated Rahami in 2014, but found no “ties to terrorism” and dropped its inquiry.

His father, Mohammad Rahami, briefly emerged on Tuesday from the family’s restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, about 20 miles (30 km) west of New York City, telling reporters, “I called the FBI two years ago.”

The FBI said in a statement that it began an assessment of the younger Rahami in 2014 based on comments his father made about his son after “a domestic dispute.”

“The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism,” the FBI said.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Mica Rosenberg in Elizabeth, N.J., Mark Hosenball and Julia Edwards in Washington and Jeffrey Dastine an dChristine Prentice in New York; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Bin Laden’s son threatens revenge for father’s assassination

Newspaper headlines and clippings are posted on a wall inside a staff office at the White House in Washington May 2, 2011, the morning after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

DUBAI (Reuters) – The son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has threatened revenge against the United States for assassinating his father, according to an audio message posted online.

Hamza bin Laden promised to continue the global militant group’s fight against the United States and its allies in the 21-minute speech entitled “We Are All Osama,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

“We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression,” Hamza said.

“As for the revenge by the Islamic nation for Sheikh Osama, may Allah have mercy on him, it is not revenge for Osama the person but it is revenge for those who defended Islam.”

Osama bin Laden was killed at his Pakistani hideout by U.S. commandos in 2011 in a major blow to the militant group which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Documents recovered from bin Laden’s compound and published by the United States last year alleged that his aides tried to reunite the militant leader with Hamza, who had been held under house arrest in Iran.

Hamza, now in his mid-twenties, was at his father’s side in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks and spent time with him in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion pushed much of al Qaeda’s senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

Introduced by the organization’s new chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message last year, Hamza provides a younger voice for the group whose aging leaders have struggled to inspire militants around the world galvanized by Islamic State.

“Hamza provides a new face for al Qaeda, one that directly connects to the group’s founder. He is an articulate and dangerous enemy,” according to Bruce Riedel of Brookings.

(Reporting By Asma Alabed; Editing by Noah Browning and Janet Lawrence)

ISIS Too Extreme For Osama Bin Laden

While the world has only recently become aware of the brutality and extremism of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, late Taliban leader Osama Bin Laden reportedly had been warned about the group before his death in 2011.

The London Daily Mail is reporting that a letter found in the Bin Laden compound after the removal of Osama Bin Laden outlined the dangers of the group calling themselves the Islamic State.

The letter had Bin Laden calling for anyone connected to al-Qaeda to immediately sever their ties with Islamic State because of their “extreme brutality” and said the group obtained and had been using chemical weapons even on mosques.

The United States began air strikes last week against ISIS over their continued attempts to take over Iraq.   The U.S. also has announced they will be providing weapons to the Kurdish fighters in the northern part of Iraq to help drive the terrorists away from villages housing tens of thousands of Christian and Jewish refugees.

International aid drops have been conducted in northern regions where the terrorists have trapped refugees in mountain regions.