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US puts bin Laden's son on terror blacklist

January 5, 2017

The United States has officially added the son of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to its counterterrorism blacklist. The State Department said the younger bin Laden poses a risk to national security.

Hamza bin Laden Sohn von Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden's son Hamza appears in an undated al Qaeda videoImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Abacapress.com

The US State Department announced Thursday it had imposed sanctions on Hamza bin Laden and designated him a global terrorist.

"Hamza bin Laden is actively engaged in terrorism," it said in a statement. The measure means he cannot use the US financial system or do business with US citizens, and any assets he may hold in areas under US jurisidiction will be frozen.

Hamza, who is in his mid-twenties, was officially named an al Qaeda member in 2014 by his father's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. According to the State Department, he has become an increasingly vocal part of the jihadi movement, calling for acts of terrorism to be committed in Western capitals and threatening to take revenge on the United States for his father's killing.

"In 2015, bin Laden called for lone offender attacks against US, French and Israeli interests in Washington, DC; Paris, France; and Tel Aviv, Israel," the State Department said.

Osama Bin Laden Afghanistan
US officials say Osama bin Laden planned to groom his son to become a future al Qaeda leaderImage: Getty Images/AFP/

In his father's footsteps

Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda founder and mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was killed by US Special Forces at his Pakistan compound in 2011. At the time, his son was believed to be under house arrest in Iran. According to letters found in the Pakistan raid, Hamza had written to his father asking to be trained to follow him.

Bruce Reidel, an analyst with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, has described Hamza as the "new face for al Qaeda" and "an articulate and dangerous enemy."

The State Department also announced penalties against Ibrahim al-Banna, a senior member of al Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Banna hailed the September 11 attacks as virtuous and has threatened to target Americans domestically and abroad, the State Department said. 

nm/kl (AP, Reuters, AFP)