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Trump was 'obsessed' with killing Osama bin Laden's son, security officials say

Trump announced the death of Hamza bin Laden late last year. [CIA]

Date of publication: 17 February, 2020

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US President Donald Trump reportedly prioritised killing bin Laden's son over personalities deemed by intelligence officials to be posing a greater risk, according to NBC News.
US President Donald Trump prioritised getting Osama bin Laden's son killed over figures deemed more of a threat to the US counter-terrorism officials, according to a NBC News report on Sunday.

The report revealed Trump's modus operandi, regarding perceived enemies to the country's security.

Late last year, Trump announced the death of Hamza bin Laden, son and designated heir of notorious Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

He stated the younger bin Laden was killed in a counter-terrorism operation involving along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Some Al-Qaeda sympathisers still believe him to be alive.

During the first two years of Trump's tenure, briefings saw the president overlook people who intelligence officials viewed as more of a risk to the US to focus on bin Laden, according to NBC News.

"He would say, 'I've never heard of any of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'" one former official told NBC News.

A Pentagon official added: "That was the only name he knew."

In a piece for Just Security, former CIA official Douglas London wrote: "Trump's obsession in focusing resources against Osama bin Laden's son Hamza is one example of the president's preference for a 'celebrity' targeted killing versus prioritising options that could prove better for US security".

London wrote that Trump insisted the CIA "accelerate [their] efforts" to go after Hamza, despite Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri posing a more immediate threat.

Though the younger bin Laden urged attacks on Americans and was viewed as a possible future Al-Qaeda leader, he was not found to be planning or inspiring attacks.

He was also believed not to be next in Al-Qaeda's line of succession, according to NBC News.

Last month, the US military conducted the killing of top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani on the orders of President Trump, who called Soleimani "a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq".

Other important figures who died in US military operations during Trump's tenure included Islamic State group leader on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and an Al-Qaeda commander Qasim al-Raymi. Both were targets prioritised by US intelligence agencies.


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