Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza — a rising figure in al Qaeda who has called for attacks against America — was added to the U.S. terrorist blacklist on Thursday.
The State Department’s move to label the younger bin Laden a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” comes with sanctions designed to isolate him economically and geographically. The announcement did not say where he is believed to be living.
Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint, an NBC News counterterrorism analyst, called Hamza bin Laden an “integral figure” in al Qaeda’s central leadership.
“He is poised to hold a high-ranking position in its echelons,” Alkhouri said.
Ayman al Zawahiri, the terrorist group’s current leader, personally introduced him as a member of al Qaeda in August 2015, and bin Laden has called for terrorism in the West on audio recordings.
Although he reportedly was being groomed as a successor to Osama after his brother Sa’ad was killed in 2009, Hamza was not at the Pakistan compound during the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that left his father and brother Khalid dead.
His standing as a scion of Osama makes him an inspirational figure for jihadists. Believed to be in his 20s, he could appeal to the younger generation of terrorists, Alkhouri said.
That’s particularly important as ISIS struggles and al Qaeda grows in some parts of the world, he added.
“He’s viewed as a trustworthy figure, and his calls to target the U.S. won’t land on deaf ears,” Alkhouri said. “We are expected to hear more from Hamza bin Laden in the near future, and his leadership role is expected to grow.”