Trump confirms death of Osama Bin Laden's son

Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. counter-terrorism operation.

President Donald Trump confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, the son of the 9/11 terrorist mastermind and al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, in a White House statement on Saturday.

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," Trump said in the statement. "Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups."

U.S. officials said in July that Hamza bin Laden was believed to have died within the last two years, but that it was unclear when and where it had happened.

Officials now say the younger bin Laden was likely killed during a joint raid by American and Afghan Special Forces, according to an Afghan intelligence source. Bin Laden wasn’t the target of the raid, but was caught in the compound as they conducted a raid for someone else.

The timing of the president's statement is of particular interest given reports of how secret U.S. talks with the Taliban fell apart amid push-back from the president's most ardent supporters.

Hamza bin Laden emerged as a "key leader" in the terrorist organization after his father was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan in 2011, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. government said a letter was found in the elder bin Laden’s compound during a subsequent raid of the compound that “indicat[ed] that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader" of al-Qaeda.

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department announced a $1 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture and accused him of "threatening attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces."

"Hamza was both the biological and ideological heir to his father,” said Tom Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“Al-Qaeda counted on him to speak to a new generation of jihadists," he said.