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)

Tampa police hunt possible serial killer after three shootings

City of Tampa Police badge

(Reuters) – Police in Florida warned residents of a central Tampa neighborhood not to go out alone after dark as they search for a possible serial killer they believe fatally shot three people in nighttime ambushes over the last two weeks.

At least two of the victims were trying to catch a bus in the Seminole Heights section when they were shot, police said.

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was alone at the bus stop after dark when he was shot on Oct. 9. Monica Hoffa, 32, was walking through the neighborhood two days later to meet a friend when she was shot. Anthony Naiboa, 20, was trying to find a bus stop when he was shot on Oct. 19.

Police say they think a single killer is behind all three attacks because they happened so near to each other at roughly the same time in the evening and without any obvious motive.

“We need everyone to come out of their homes at night and turn on their porch lights and just not tolerate this type of terrorism in the neighborhood,” Brian Dugan, the Tampa police department’s interim chief, told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

He said people should not go out alone and should pay attention to their surroundings.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer or killers.

Police have released an indistinct video of a person wearing a hooded top they think may be the killer.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jeffrey Benkoe)

 

U.S. offers $25 million reward for information on Islamic State leader

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday more than doubled its previous reward for information on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, offering $25 million for information that would help locate, arrest or convict the head of the jihadist group.

The U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice program previously offered $10 million for information on Baghdadi, announced in October 2011. The increase was announced in a statement on Friday.

Baghdadi, an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, declared himself the caliph of a huge swath of Iraq and Syria two years ago.

His exact location is not clear. Reports have said he may be in the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, Iraq, or in Islamic State-held territory to the west of the city, close to the border with Syria.

Kurdish officials believe that growing pressure resulting from a coalition military assault on Mosul is causing Baghdadi and his top lieutenants to move around and try to hide themselves.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, editing by G Crosse)