Trump wanted CIA to kill bin Laden's son over other high-priority targets: report

Trump wanted CIA to kill bin Laden's son over other high-priority targets: report
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President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE wanted the CIA to kill Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden over other high-priority targets, NBC News reported Sunday. 

Intelligence officials reportedly briefed Trump on the top terrorist threats during the first two years of his presidency, including al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who remains alive. But the president would ask about Hamza bin Laden. 

"He would say, 'I've never heard of any of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'" one former official told NBC News, with another Pentagon official saying it was “the only name he knew.” 


Osama bin Laden’s youngest son was not believed to be planning attacks or have a serious following but was killed in an airstrike in 2018, current and former officials familiar with the matter told the network. 

Former CIA official Douglas London said the president had an “obsession” with getting Hamza bin Laden, adding in a JustSecurity.com article that the agency did recognize the “value” in his “name recognition.” 

"Despite intelligence assessments showing the greater dangers posed by Zawahiri ... and the unlikelihood Hamza was in the immediate line of succession, the president thought differently," London wrote. "He regularly demanded updates on Hamza and insisted we accelerate our efforts to go after him."

Experts almost unanimously agree that Hamza bin Laden was a lawful target for encouraging attacks on Americans and a potential future leader of al Qaeda. But they said he was not next in line or a top threat, London and other U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News. 

The president did authorize the killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Yemeni al Qaeda chief Qasim al-Rimi, announced in October and this month, respectively. Both leaders were considered top targets on every intelligence priority list.

But current and former intelligence officials presented potential concerns about the president’s decisionmaking for these high stake decisions, saying he doesn’t read intelligence assessments.


Trump also approved the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, an attack which prompted Iran to promise retaliation and strike Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, injuring dozens. 

"The President's highest priority is keeping Americans safe," a senior administration official told The Hill in a statement. "The Trump Administration has successfully targeted the most dangerous and deadly terrorists in the world in order to protect the American people, including Hamza bin Laden, al-Baghdadi, Qassem Soleimani, and Qasim al-Rimi. These and countless other measures that have removed dozens of high value targets exemplify this Administration's resolve to defeat terrorism."

The CIA did not immediately return request for comment.