Saudi Arabia strips Osama bin Laden's son of citizenship

Hamza bin Laden is wanted by the United States, which has issued a reward of up to $1m for news of his whereabouts.

    Hamza bin Laden is described as an "emerging leader" within al-Qaeda [CIA handout via AP]
    Hamza bin Laden is described as an "emerging leader" within al-Qaeda [CIA handout via AP]

    Saudi Arabia has stripped a son of deceased former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of his citizenship, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement published by state media.

    The decision was made by a royal order in November, according to the statement, which ran in Umm Al-Qura newspaper on Friday.

    The move comes a day after the United States announced a reward of up to one million dollars for information on the younger bin Laden's whereabouts.

    Described by the US State Department as an "emerging leader" within al-Qaeda, Hamza bin Laden has been classified as a "terrorist" by the US since 2017. 

    He has released audio and video messages on the internet calling for attacks on Western capitals and has threatened revenge for his father's killing in 2011 by US forces, according to a State Department statement

    He has also threatened to target US citizens abroad and urged Saudi tribes to unite with al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch to fight against the Saudi state.

    Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert operation at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the former al-Qaeda leader had gone into hiding. 

    He became notorious worldwide after claiming responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, which killed almost 3,000 people from more than 70 countries. 

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    Letters from Osama bin Laden seized from the Abbottabad compound indicated that he was grooming his son to replace him as leader of al-Qaeda.

    Hamza bin Laden's current whereabouts are unknown and it is not clear whether he holds other citizenship.

    "We do believe he's probably in the Afghan-Pakistan border and he'll cross into Iran. But he could be anywhere though in ... southcentral Asia," Michael Evanoff, the US assistant secretary for diplomatic security said on Thursday. 

    Youth appeal 

    Hamza bin Laden has called for attacks on Western capitals [CIA handout via AP Photo]

    Thought to be around 30 years old, Hamza was alongside his father in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks and the pair spent time together in Pakistan after the elder bin Laden fled following the US-led invasion in 2001, according to the Brookings Institution. 

    According to the State Department, he is married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, who hijacked one of the planes used in the 9/11 attacks. 

    He was introduced by al-Qaeda's current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a 2015 audio message.

    Analysts say the younger bin Laden provides a youthful voice for al-Qaeda, whose ageing leaders have struggled to inspire potential recruits around the world as successfully as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). 

    Since its formation in Saudi Arabia in 1988, al-Qaeda's presence and influence has spread significantly. The group has established affiliations with armed groups on several continents and carried out dozens of attacks.

    Al-Qaeda is classed as a "terrorist" organisation by dozens of countries and international bodies including the United Nations and European Union

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies