CATF Reports Jan. 6, 2017, 3:22pm

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.) 13224.

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 flee 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 governments.”

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