Even though Osama bin Laden no longer lives, his thirst for terrorism lives on in his 28-year-old son.
In a new Al-Qaeda propaganda video, Hamza bin Laden is continuing his father’s “work” by encouraging extremists to commit terrorist attacks in the West.
The 10-minute video is the latest in the string of propaganda videos featuring voiceovers from Hamza and it offers “advice for martyrdom-seekers in the West.”
“Follow in the footsteps of martyrdom-seekers before you,” says Hamza in the video. “Pick off from where they left, for this will help you.”
The audio version started to pop up two weeks ago on jihadist websites and there is a video version which features people’s reactions to past terrorist attacks.
“But Hamza bin Laden is not advocating his father’s style of jihad. Osama bin Laden was notorious for his ambitious, carefully planned terrorist operations, directed by al-Qaeda’s generals and aimed at strategic targets. His son, by contrast, urges followers to seize any opportunity to strike at Jewish interests, Americans, Europeans and pro-Western Muslims, using whatever weapon happens to be available,” writes The Washington Post.
“Prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved,” says Hamza in the voiceover.
“The video drew attention from several terrorism experts on Twitter. Shiraz Maher, the deputy director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, noted that Hamza seemed “to be encouraging attacks with any tool possible (e.g., a vehicle), which his father had eschewed.” Katz wrote that Hamza’s speech was “nonetheless another attempt by [Al-Qaeda] to win hearts [and] minds of jihadists” amid competition with the Islamic State group (ISIS). Al-Qaeda and ISIS officially split in 2014, though Newsweek reported in April that rumors of an alliance have recently surfaced,” writes Newsweek.
Hamza’s desire for vengeance isn’t really a surprise.
Ali Soufan, an ex-FBI agent said on 60 Minutes that the agency got a hold of letters discovered at bin Laden compound after he was killed in 2011 by U.S. Navy Seals. Allegedly, one of these letters was written by Hamza were he promised to continue his father’s mission.
“Every look … every smile you gave me, every word you told me. I consider myself to be forged in steel. The path of jihad for the sake of God is what we live [for,]” said the letter, reported by The Sun.
“He was a poster kid for al-Qaeda … and for members of al-Qaeda, who were indoctrinated with these propaganda videos, he means a lot to them,” said Soufan on 60 Minutes.
Then in 2015, al-Qaeda released an audio recording with similar messaging encouraging attacks against the West. The terrorist group has release other recordings using Hamza’s voice too.
In January of this year, Hamza was classified as a specially designated global terrorist the U.S. State Department, forbidding Americans form doing any business with him.
“The imposition of sanctions by the United States against terrorists is a powerful tool,” wrote the U.S. State Department. “Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Hamza bin Laden is actively engaged in terrorism.”
However, Hamza has kept most of his personals details private. There are no confirmed photographs of the terrorist. This means it will be hard for the terrorist group to make him into an icon.
“People loyal to al-Qaeda and against the Islamic State are looking for inspiration, and they realize that he can provide it,” said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute to The Washington Post. “But for today’s youth, you need more than audio and an old photograph.”
Documents found at bin Laden’s compound also revealed that the 9/11 architect had high hopes for Hamza and was preparing him for leadership.
“The documents reveal a special bond between Hamza bin Laden and his father that persisted despite long periods of separation. The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s estimated 20 children, Hamza was the only son born to the terrorist’s third wife, and by some accounts his favorite, Khairiah Sabar, a Saudi woman whose family traces its lineage to the prophet Muhammad,” writes The Washington Post.
“Hamza is one of the mujahideen, and he bears their thoughts and worries,” wrote bin Laden in one letter. “And at the same time, he can interact with the [Muslim] nation.”
Author’s note: Even though Hamza is trying to stay hidden, it looks like he is already trying to live up to his father’s legacy. Al-Qaeda knows they need him and that he could be a powerful tool. By encouraging extremists to attack as lone wolves and with whatever means necessary, makes Hamza even more brutal and radical. This could be the start of a massive resurgence of al-Qaeda.