When you want to take over the family business, it’s good to have name recognition.
And if the family business is terrorism, there are few better brands than Osama bin Laden, who was America’s most wanted terrorist until he died at the hands of Navy SEALs in 2011.
Osama bin Laden was known to have three sons: one who disavowed him, one who died with him, and one who disappeared after the commando raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
That third son, Hamza, is said to be bin Laden’s favorite child from his favorite wife, and has now resurfaced and appears to be aspiring to lead a resonant al Qaeda, according to experts who track the terrorist group.
Al Qaeda’s current leader is Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor turned terrorist, who has been driven underground by a relentless U.S. campaign to capture or kill him. He’s believed to be hiding out in Pakistan, and has been largely sidelined as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has eclipsed al Qaeda as the preeminent terrorist threat to West.
But that may be about to change, writes Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who now heads his own international security consulting group.
In an academic treatise published in CTC Sentinel, the flagship publication of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Soufan argues that Zawahiri is an uncharismatic leader who, as an Egyptian, was always struggling to inspire loyalty among other Arabs, especially those from the Arabian Peninsula.
“Hamza, by contrast, suffers from none of these handicaps,” Soufan wrote. “His family pedigree, not to mention his dynastic marriage to the daughter of an al Qaeda charter member, automatically entitles him to respect from every jihadi who follows bin Laden’s ideology.”
After apparently escaping from the Abbottabad compound just before the raid that killed his father and brother, and resulted in the capture of his mother, Hamza was not seen or heard from for four years.
Then in an August 2015 audio recording, Zawahiri introduced…