Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State designated
possible al-Qaeda’s heir and one of Osama bin Laden’s youngest sons Hamza bin
Laden as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) after he issued several
audio messages inciting terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
As a result of the listing, the U.S. Department of State froze Hamza bin
Laden’s assets subject to U.S.
jurisdiction and prevented U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with him
under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.)
Hamza bin Laden’s current appearance remains
unknown to U.S. authorities, protected for years by al-Qaeda’s cadres after he
first appeared in a 2001 Taliban and al-Qaeda joint video. As Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow Thomas Joscelyn observed,
documents found in Osama bin Laden’s compound showed that al-Qaeda’s leader was
constantly concerned about Hamza’s safety as the time of the Abbottabad raid
approached. Against his father’s recommendation, who strongly pleaded for Hamza
to Qatar and temporarily hide in the country, Hamza was
trained by al-Qaeda operatives and officially
joined the al-Qaeda ranks on August 14, 2015. In a joint audio
message with Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri released in August 2015 by al-Qaeda
media outlet Al-Sahab Institute for Media
Production, Hamza publicly
incited Kabul and Baghdad-based al-Qaeda followers to carry out attacks in
Washington, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv. More calls for attacks against Western
interests and symbols came throughout 2016. In particular, in July, Hamza
threatened revenge against the U.S. for bin Laden’s death. A month later, he
urged Saudi tribes to join forces with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIM)
to overthrow the Saudi government.
Deemed by many experts to be bin Laden’s potential
successor in the leadership of al-Qaeda, Hamza’s voice has grown increasingly
authoritative over the past year and his calls for action have spanned diverse
arenas, including Syria and Palestine.
From the U.S.
Department of State Media Note:
“The imposition of sanctions by the
United States against terrorists is a powerful tool. Today’s action notifies
the U.S. public and the international community that Hamza bin Laden is
actively engaged in terrorism. Designations of terrorist individuals and groups
expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and result in denial of
access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist or
complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other