The Al-Qaida terror network may be attempting to usurp the Islamic State as the face of radical Islamic terrorism by promoting deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, The Washington Post reports.
The younger bin Laden has increasingly appeared in propaganda materials for the terrorist group with a starkly different message than its older leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
“Al-Qaida is trying to use the moment — [with ISIS] being under attack — to offer jihadists a new alternative,” a Middle Eastern security official told The Washington Post. “What could be more effective than a bin Laden?”
The younger bin Laden refrains from explicitly criticizing ISIS in his propaganda messages, unlike Zawahiri. His apparent unwillingness to attack the rival terrorist group may be a long term ploy to get allegiance from ISIS members after the caliphate in Iraq and Syria collapses. “The calculation is that it will be very difficult for the Daesh leadership to denounce Hamza, given who he is,” a bin Laden family friend told The Washington Post, using another name from ISIS.
Bin Laden has also borrowed from the ISIS playbook by increasingly encouraging low cost lone wolf attacks in the west. A recent propaganda message of his urged followers to “accomplish your goals with secrecy. Attain the highest level of perfection in your actions, exercise utmost care and caution, and prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved.”
“If you are unable to go for American Crusaders, target the interests of the Crusader member states of NATO,” he continued.
The Department of State labeled the younger bin Laden a specially designated global terrorist in January 2017. The designation declared that “Hamza bin Laden is actively engaged in terrorism,” noting his official inclusion into the group in August 2015.
Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan emphasized in a recent CBSNews interview that Hamza “was educated by some of the founding members of al Qaeda. He was educated by people who masterminded the East African Embassy bombing, the U.S.S Cole. By people who basically secured al Qaeda from the day it started until 9/11. And they were preparing him to be the leader.”
“I think we’re not done with the bin Ladens yet,” he declared.