State Department Designates Osama bin Laden's Son a 'Global Terrorist'

Hamza bin Laden has called for attacks against Americans and U.S. interests.

Bin Laden, born in 1989, was announced as an official member of al-Qaida, the terrorist group his father founded, in 2015.

Since then, al-Qaida audio messages featuring the younger bin Laden have threatened the U.S. and western nations and called for attacks against U.S., French and Israeli interests in Washington, D.C., Paris, France, and Tel Aviv, Israel. A July message from him threatened revenge against Americans in the U.S. and abroad.

The designation of a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” imposes sanctions on the individual via Executive Order 13224, a tool the State Department called “powerful.”

“Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Hamza bin Laden is actively engaged in terrorism,” the State Department said in a press release. “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.”

The State Department also imposed this designation on Ibrahim al-Banna, a senior member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Banna is subject to a U.S. government reward of up to $5 million.

Hamza bin Laden is only the second of Osama bin Laden’s 20-plus children to be sanctioned by the U.S., according to a list compiled by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. In January 2009, the Treasury Department designated Sa'ad bin Laden for being involved in al-Qaida activities. It was reported that Sa’ad bin Laden would ultimately take over al-Qaida from his father, but he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2009.

In 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound, killing the al-Qaida leader who orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Letters taken from the compound showed he was grooming his son Hamza bin Laden to run the group following Sa'ad bin Laden's death.

The State Department press release did not give an indication as to where Hamza bin Laden is located.

An image from 2001 appears to show Hamza bin Laden (center) as a young boy reading a poem alongside Taliban members in Afghanistan. Another image from that time shows him holding what the Taliban claimed was a piece of a U.S. helicopter.

Currently leading al-Qaida is Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was allegedly involved in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. The State Department is offering up to $25 million for information leading to al-Zawahiri’s capture. The only other individual who commands a reward that large is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.