WASHINGTON, DC - The White House has confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden.
Despite reports last month that bin Laden had been killed, the U.S. government refused to make any comment.
Now on Saturday the White House has issued what it says is a 'statement from the President,' in which it confirms the son of Osama was killed 'in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.'
"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the statement said.
"Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups," the statement added.
The younger son of the al-Qaeda founder, alleged to have orchestrated the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States, was being used as a poster boy by the militant group in the past one or two years, but was not known to have participated in or planned any actual attacks.
He did make public announcements saying he wanted to avenge his father's death.
When reports surfaced last month that Hamza had been killed, President t Trump would not comment. Asked about the reports, he said: "I will say Hamza bin Laden was very threatening to our country. And you can't do that. But as far as anything beyond that, I have no comment."
It is unclear why the U.S. has delayed announcing the death of bin Laden, and why it has not disclosed when he was killed. U.S. policy allows for taking out major terrorists by an air strike if they are considered an imminent threat. It is unclear win what basis the Hamza bin Laden assassination was ordered, but that may have been a factor in why the announcement has been delayed.
Asked if Hamza bin Laden's death would diminish al-Qaeda, Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute told the Telegraph last month: "I don't think it makes a difference in practical terms."
"The removal of a guy who has not particularly done anything is not going to really move the dial."
Hamza bin Laden in January 2017 was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the U.S. State Department.
On 28 February this year a reward of up to $1 million was offered to assist in locating bin Laden. In the posting he was described as a 'key' al-Qaeda figure.
"Hamaz bin Laden is emerging as a leader in the AQ franchise. Since at least August 2015, he has released audio and video messages on the Internet calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. service members," the posting said.
Despite this, while the postings usually detail the activities of the person the subject of the designation, the Hamza bin Laden posting rather detailed events that took place under his father's time, including the three bombings targeting U.S. troops in Aden in December 1992, the shooting down of U.S. helicopters and killing of U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993, the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, in October 2000 the suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, and the September 11 2001 attacks.
As Hamza bin Laden is believed to have been born in 1989, according to Wikipedia, he would have been 2 to three years old at the time of the first attack, and he would have been aged 11 to twelve by the time of the September 11 attacks.
"Bin Laden's son was heir to the throne. Even if he didn't exercise operational control, his name and those actions requested to be carried out in his name carries weight in amongst those who were drawn to al-Qaeda by his father," Brett Bruen, former White House director of global engagement and president of crusts communications firm Global Situation Room, Inc., told Fox News in August.
"His death at the hands of the West is, if nothing else, a deep psychological blow," Lt. Col. James Carafano, a director for Foreign Policy Studies and International Studies at The Heritage Foundation said, while noting bin Laden had no battlefield experience.
Accordingto Human Rights Watch, international human rights law permits the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict situations if it is strictly and directly necessary to save human life. In particular, the use of lethal force is lawful if the targeted individual presents an imminent threat to life and less extreme means, such as capture or non-lethal incapacitation, are insufficient to address that threat.
The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provides that the "intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life." This standard permits using firearms only in self-defense or defense of others "against the imminent threat of death or serious injury" or "to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life" and "only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives." Under this standard, individuals cannot be targeted for lethal attack merely because of past unlawful behavior, but only for imminent or other grave threats to life when arrest is not a reasonable possibility, HRW says.
The use of unmanned aircraft or drones for targeted killings does not directly affect the legal analysis of a particular attack. Drones themselves and their weaponry of missiles and laser-guided bombs are not illegal weapons under the laws of war they can be used lawfully or unlawfully depending on the circumstances.
State Department legal adviser Harold Koh told thee American Society of International Law in March 2010 that the United States is in an ongoing armed conflict with al-Qaeda, and so has the authority under the laws of war to use lethal force against al-Qaeda members and associated forces. He noted that whether a particular individual will be targeted in a particular location would depend upon specific considerations, including "the willingness and ability of those states to suppress the threat the target poses." Koh said that in targeted killings and other operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, "great care is taken to adhere to international humanitarian law principles in both planning and execution, to ensure that only legitimate objectives are targeted and that collateral damage [civilian casualties] is kept to a minimum."