DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The son of al-Qaeda’s slain founder Osama bin Laden has urged Saudis to “overthrow” the kingdom’s rulers in order to “free” themselves from US influence, SITE Intelligence Group reported Wednesday.
In an undated audio message, Hamza bin Laden urged Saudi youth to join the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to “gain the necessary experience” to fight, according to SITE.
Classified by the United States as the network’s deadliest franchise, AQAP was formed in January 2009 as a merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al-Qaeda.
Yemen is the ancestral home of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan in 2011 by an elite team of US Navy SEALS after a decade on the run.
US intelligence officials have said that 23-year-old Hamza was the favorite son of the 9/11 mastermind who had been grooming him to take over as al-Qaeda’s leader.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, experts have noted Hamza’s increasing prominence among jihadists in comparison to that of Egyptian al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A Saudi-led coalition is battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen as well as Sunni jihadists who have joined AQAP and the Islamic State group.
Saudi authorities in 1994 stripped Osama bin Laden of his nationality after he issued fatwas, or Islamic religious pronouncements, denouncing both the royal family and the United States.