Saudi Arabia announced Friday it had revoked the citizenship of Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late al-Qaida leader who has become an increasingly prominent figure in the terror network.
There was no immediate explanation why the royal decree stripping his citizenship, signed in November, was only becoming public now.
However, the announcement comes after the US government on Thursday offered a USD 1 million reward for information leading to his capture as part of its “Rewards for Justice” program.
The kingdom similarly stripped Osama bin Laden’s citizenship in 1994 while living in exile in Sudan when Hamza bin Laden was just a child. Where he is now remains in question.
“This is an example of history rhyming,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies who studies al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.
“He’s basically born right after al-Qaida is founded, so his life is totally consumed in the establishment, the formation of al-Qaida and the launching of its war against the West and America.”
Saudi Arabia revoked Hamza bin Laden’s citizenship in November, according to a circular by the Interior Ministry quietly published Friday by the country’s official gazette. State-run media in the kingdom did not report on the decision.
Bin Laden is believed to have been born in 1989, the year of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, where his father became known among the mujahedeen fighters.
His father returned to Saudi Arabia and later fled to Sudan after criticizing the kingdom for allowing US troops to deploy in the country during the 1991 Gulf War. He later fled Sudan for Afghanistan in 1996, where he declared war against the US.
As leader of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden oversaw a series of attacks, including the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen.
He and others plotted and executed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, which led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. US Navy SEALs ultimately killed bin Laden in a raid on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.
For Hamza bin Laden, now believed to be around 30, his father initially worried for his safety and thought to send him away for study, but his son instead “wants to