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Hamza bin Laden has married daughter of lead 9/11 hijacker, say family

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Hamza bin Laden has married daughter of lead 9/11 hijacker, say family


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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Hamza bin Laden has married daughter of lead 9/11 hijacker, say family” was written by Martin Chulov, for theguardian.com on Sunday 5th August 2018 10.37 UTC

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Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late al-Qaida leader, has married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 terror attacks, according to his family.

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The union was confirmed by Osama bin Laden’s half-brothers during an interview with the Guardian. Ahmad and Hassan al-Attas said they believed Hamza had taken a senior position within al-Qaida and was aiming to avenge the death of his father, shot dead during a US military raid in Pakistan seven years ago.

Hamza bin Laden is the son of one of Osama bin Laden’s three surviving wives, Khairiah Sabar, who was living with her husband in a compound in Abbottabad, near a large Pakistani military base, when he was killed. He has since made public statements urging followers to wage war on Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv and is seen as a deputy to the terrorist group’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Alia Ghanem at home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Alia Ghanem at home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with a picture of her son Osama bin Laden. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

“We have heard he has married the daughter of Mohammed Atta,” said Ahmad al-Attas. “We’re not sure where he is, but it could be Afghanistan.”

Western intelligence agencies have been increasingly focusing on the whereabouts of Hamza bin Laden over the past two years, seeing him as more likely than anyone else to galvanise followers. His marriage to the daughter of Atta, an Egyptian national, appears to confirm that the 9/11 alumni remains a central hub of al-Qaida and that the organisation itself continues to be organised around Osama bin Laden’s legacy.

Another of Bin Laden’s sons, Khalid, was killed in the US raid in Abbottabad. A third, Saad, was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan in 2009. Letters purportedly written by Osama bin Laden and seized from the compound suggested he was grooming Hamza to replace him, partly to avenge the death of Saad.

Bin Laden’s wives and surviving children have returned to Saudi Arabia, where they were given refuge by the former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef. The women and children remain in close contact with Bin Laden’s mother, Alia Ghanem, who told the Guardian in an interview that she remained in regular touch with surviving family members.

Ahmad al-Attas, brother of Osama bin Laden.
Ahmad al-Attas, brother of Osama bin Laden. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

“When we thought everyone was over this, next thing I knew was Hamza saying I am going to avenge my father,” said Hassan al-Attas. “I don’t want to go through that again.

“If Hamza was in front of me now, I would tell him: God guide you. Think twice about what you are doing. Don’t retake the steps of your father. You are entering really negative and horrible parts of your soul.”

The family claimed they did not have any contact with Osama bin Laden from 1999 until his death in 2011. They said they had not heard from Hamza bin Laden nor received any messages from him.

In recognition of his apparent status within al-Qaida, the US government labelled him a specially designated global terrorist in January 2017, meaning his assets could be blocked and anyone who dealt with him faced arrest.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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