News and Commentary

Saudi Arabia Strips Bin Laden’s Son Of Citizenship After U.S. Places $1 Million Bounty

Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden, no longer has citizenship in Saudi Arabia after the United States government put a $1 million bounty on his head, Fox News reports.

“Saudia Arabia’s foreign ministry announced Friday that it was revoking the citizenship of Hamza bin Laden, son of the slain al-Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Usama bin Laden,” reports the outlet. “The move comes less than a day after the U.S. State Department’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program announced a $1 million reward for information leading to his whereabouts. The United Nations Security Council on Thursday also added Hamza to its designated sanctions list.”

Other members of bin Laden’s family have not had their citizenships revoked and continue to hold prominent positions in Saudi society.

“Hamza, believed to be around 30, is a shadowy and elusive figure and little about his background or status is known,” the report continued. “He is reported to have recently married, and has been thought to reside — or have resided — everywhere from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Syria.”

According to Business Insider, Hamza bin Laden was the now-slain former al-Qaeda leader’s heir to carry on his legacy prior to being executed in 2011 by the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six. Letters obtained from Osama’s hideout at the time indicated Hamza was being groomed to lead the terrorist group al-Qaeda into the next generation. U.S. intelligence services have sometimes referred to him as the favorite of Osama bin Laden’s estimated two dozen children. He is also married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Hamza bin Laden…is emerging as a leader” in the al-Qaeda franchise, the U.S. State Department said in a statement, reports CNN. “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 US military forces.”

NBC News reports that the Saudi Arabian government revoked bin Laden’s citizenship all the way back in November 2018, keeping it under wraps until now. The government has given no explanation as to why they kept it secret for so long. The Saudi Arabian government previously stripped Osama bin Laden of citzenship in 1994, while he was living in exile in Sudan.

“This is an example of history rhyming,” Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies who studies al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, told NBC News. “He’s basically born right after al-Qaeda is founded, so his life is totally consumed in the establishment, the formation of al-Qaeda and the launching of its war against the West and America.”

Saudi Arabia’s move comes just months after the Royal Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman faced international scrutiny over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reportedly done at the hands of the Saudi government.