A name like ‘bin Laden’ comes with a high level of nostalgia and legitimacy for a terrorist organization, which is just what al-Qaeda needs to boost recruitment and refresh their fighting force globally. This past week, Hamza bin Laden could be heard on an audio recording calling for al-Qaeda in Syria to liberate Palestine. The Jerusalem Post stated:
According to a new al-Qaeda video discovered by the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) and shared with The Jerusalem Post, Hamza praised the stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis and called on Muslims from around the world to join the fight to defend Jerusalem, urging them to “participate in the intifada” of their Palestinian brethren by “killing the Jews and attacking their interests everywhere.”
In addition, Hamza called for Muslims to attack the interests of US and Western countries in the Muslim world because of their support for Israel.
The supporters of the Jews “must pay the bill in their blood” and must feel what Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere have been feeling, he said.
According to the report, Hamza stressed the obligation of jihad upon every Muslim in order to defend al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and Muslim women, who he claimed are being killed by Jews in cold blood.
He also suggested building a mega army based primarily in Syria to “liberate Palestine.”
“The best arenas that are prepared for such a great task [of building that army] is the blessed arena of Al-Sham [Syria],” he said.
“We must remember that the road to liberating Palestine today is much closer than the one that existed before the blessed Syrian revolution. Thus, the Muslim Ummah must focus its attention on the jihad in Syria.”
He also called for the mujahideen in Syria to unite their ranks, saying: “All believers are brothers with no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab [Muslim] but [the level of] their piousness.”
He urged Muslim scholars to physically join the jihad and for Muslim businessmen to fund it with charitable donations.
This is not the first time Hamza bin Laden has tried to rally al-Qaeda fighters, as he has released audio recordings in 2015 praising lone-wolf attacks like those seen at the Boston marathon bombing, Charlie Hebdo, and attacks in Israel.
Not only is Hamza bin Laden a useful propaganda tool to recruit for al-Qaeda, he could also be used to draw resources and fighters away from ISIS. The familiarity of his name and works of his father offer potential recruits the perception of longevity compared to the leadership of ISIS. The emirs of al-Qaeda have no doubt been grooming him to assume a leadership role in the future, much like Muqtadā al-Ṣadr was groomed by the Shia in Iran to assume power in Iraq at a later time. Hamza has been on the path to leadership ever since he left his father’s side at the age of 13. In letters to his father, Hamza mentioned anticipating the day he could join Osama bin Laden in the fight.
As Hamza continues to prove himself, his handlers will push him into more demanding roles. Al-Qaeda leadership is clearly aware of the danger and vulnerability of losing such a valuable propaganda asset, as his face is rarely if ever published; the only public pictures of him are of him as a child. You can expect to see Hamza in a significant role amidst the next generation of al-Qaeda fighters.