Saana, 6 Feb. (AKI) – Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s youngest son Hamza is being groomed to take over from his father as leader of the terror network, says former Islamist Yemeni militant, Muhammad Sayd.
Sayd told the Arab satellite TV network Al-Arabiya that the 16-year old had been selected for the role.
“Young Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama, has been chosen to lead the al-Qaeda organisation in the future,” said Sayd, who has been close to the al-Qaeda leader in the past.
“I have met Hamza several times and the last time was 20 days before the ‘9/11’ attacks. He is a very religious boy, he learnt the Koran by heart at a young age and has been educated in Jihad (Holy War),” Sayd told Al-Arabiya, the Saudi-backed based in the United Arab Emirates.
“When I met him, he already knew who to used light weapons and how to escape from guerrilla attacks,” Sayd said, adding that Hamza writes poetry.
Hamza is well placed to take over his father’s job in the future, Sayd said.
“He is the only son by Osama’ s Saudi wife, and has always had a different education from the other children,” he said.
Sayd claimed Hamza is used to a spartan existence and is able to face the difficulties of such living conditions.
“He loved the simple life, unlike his brother Omar, who decided to return to Saudi Arabia [the bin Ladens’ homeland] and has now married an Englishwoman,” he said.
“I have also met Omar… he is different from his brother and never liked the spartan life. He chose to return home to Saudi Arabia to be with his uncles.”
The alleged presence of another of bin Laden’s sons, 28-year-old Saad in Afghanistan is no obstacle to the succession of Hamza, according to Sayd, who claims Saad has never been considered his father’s heir to al-Qaeda.
Hamza’s name has been in the news in recent days, after Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper published excerpts from slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto’s memoirs in which she accused him of being one of the people who were seeking to assassinate her.
In the posthumously published memoirs, Bhutto, revealed that Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf and ‘a foreign Muslim government’ warned her that four suicide bombing squads would try to kill her.
Bhutto named Hamza bin Laden, and al-Qaeda linked Pakistani militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, radicals from Islamabad’s Red Mosque, and a Karachi-based militant group.
Bhutto was murdered on 27 December last year in a bomb and gun attack in the Pakistani garrison town of Rawalpindi. The Pakistani authorities have claimed Mehsud is behind her killing, which is being investigated by British and Pakistani intelligence.
Sayd, whose battle name is Abu al-Fada, has been close to Osama bin Laden in the past, and left Afghanistan, where western intelligence agencies believe bin Laden may be hiding, just before al-Qaeda’s 11 Sept. 2001 attacks on the US.