Meet the crown prince of terror, Bin Laden junior rises
HE'S been described as the "Crown Prince of Terror" and the fear is Osama bin Laden's son is about to launch a new reign of terror on the world to avenge his father's death.
With ISIS crumbling, its parent terror organisation al-Qaeda is about to be taken over by the only son of Bin Laden's favourite wife.
Hamza Bin Laden, now believed to be aged 28, and regarded as the "poster boy" of al-Qaeda's re-emergence on the world terrorism front, may be about to strike.
Like his father, he is intelligent and a devotee of violent, radical jihad.
Hamza Laden, as he is sometimes called, was a child in Afghanistan when his father changed the world by launching al-Qaeda's deadly 9/11 terror attacks on America.
He grew up hating everything about the USA - aside from a secret childhood love for Coca Cola - and was reared as his father's designated heir.
He is married to the daughter of Abu Mohammed al-Masri, the former head of al-Qaeda's training camps. He is wanted by the United States for his alleged role in the 1998 American embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
In May, a chilling audio recording indicated he was staging a deadly comeback for al-Qaeda, which has been all but forgotten in the rise of ISIS in Syria and the Middle East.
Hamza's voice, described by the Washington Post as "vintage Osama bin Laden" sonorously intones the words: "Prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved.
"Follow in the footsteps of martyrdom-seekers before you."
But it is not the first time Hamza has stepped up and out of the shadow of his father's stewardship of al-Qaeda.
Two years ago, he was introduced by the group's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as "a lion from the den of Al-Qaeda."
In an audio message recorded in mid-2015, Hamza's voice can be heard praising terror leaders and denouncing then president Barack Obama as "the black chief of [a] criminal gang".
Hamza called on jihadis to strike and "take the battlefield from Kabul, Baghdad and Gaza to Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv."
The audio threats are of no surprise to the FBI, whose al-Qaeda investigators have analysed letters written by Hamza to his father.
The letters were found in the Abbottabad hideaway in Pakistan where US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
They suggest that Osama was grooming Hamza as his successor.
In one letter, written by Hamza at the age of about 21, he expresses his desire for vengeance, according to a former FBI who was the lead al-Qaeda investigator post 9/11.
"American people, we're coming and you're going to feel it. And we're going to take revenge for what you did to my father … Iraq … Afghanistan," the letter said.
Hamza is the eighth born of around 20 Bin Laden siblings and the only son of Osama's third of six wives, Khairiah Sabar.
Sabar, one of three Osama bin Laden widows captured in the Abbottabad operation, is a child psychologist with a PhD in Islamic studies.
Seven years Bin Laden's senior, she was favoured for her "regal quality" and commitment to jihadism.
From a wealthy and distinguished family, Khairiah was known as "strong-willed", a quality she had passed on to their son.
At the time of the 9/11 attacks when Osama bin Laden went into hiding, Hamza was aged about 11.
Hamza and his mother fled to Iran, where they were safe for a while until they were to become valuable bargaining chips for that country.
The mother and son, along with three key al-Qaeda officials which included Hamza's future father-in-law, were imprisoned in a Tehran dungeon.
Hamza was to spend most of next decade under house arrest in an apartment compound with limited contact with the outside world.
Hamza grew up, deeply missing the father he idolised.
"How many times, from the depths of my heart, I wished to be beside you," Hamza wrote to him in one letter, Newsweek reported.
"I remember every smile that you smiled at me, every word that you spoke to me and every look that you gave me."
Schooled by his mother and inspired by a father who perpetrated the world's most infamous days of terror, Hamza was a jihadi leader in the making.
In the months before his father's death, Hamza and his mother were released from Iran.
When Khairiah finally reached the secret Abbottabad compound, according a new book, Osama's other wives feared she may have been tracked by Iranian intelligence revealing his hideaway.
In the early hours of May 2, 2011, when the SEALs shot both Osama and another son, Khaled, dead, it was Hamza that was reported as having been killed alongside his father.
The White House announced his death, before further analysis showed that it was the older son, Khaled, who had been killed.
During Hamza's early twenties, al-Qaeda's hate child ISIS rose up.
Its brutality of beheadings and violence played out on video and social media convinced the world ISIS had trumped all terror groups.
ISIS and al-Qaeda split and the latter's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri lacked Osama bin Laden's charisma.
Enter Hamza Bin Laden.
The west's attacks on ISIS and bombing of the territories of the so-called new Islamic state caliphate have weakened it, perhaps fatally.
But as the letters found at Abbottabad show, at the time of his death Osama bin Laden was planning a sequel to 9/11.
And al-Qaeda hopes that Hamza will represent a "new generation of al-Qaeda followers", Business Insider reported.
Bruce Riedel at US research group, The Brookings Institution, wrote after Hamza's 2015 audio release that he was both an "attractive" spokesman for al-Qaeda and "an articulate and dangerous enemy".
"He carries the legacy of his father's name and life's work," Riedel wrote. "… Hamza provides a new face for al-Qaeda, one that directly connects to the group's founder."
With the 2017 audio release, Hamza Bin Laden's time might be coming soon.