U.S. offers $5 million reward for senior Al Qaeda leader

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice program has announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hamza Salih bin Sa’id al-Ghamdi, a senior member of Al Qaeda’s shura, or executive leadership council.

The program described Ghamdi, a Saudi citizen, as a “key senior leader” within the terror group. Al Qaeda’s shura is composed of its top leaders, responsible for setting strategies, policies, and coordinating with the group’s regional branches.

“Hamza al-Ghamdi is a native of Saudi Arabia and a senior leader of the terrorist group al-Qa’ida. During the weeks leading up to al-Qa’ida’s September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon in the United States, al-Ghamdi was one of AQ leader Usama bin Laden’s most trusted associates and head of bin Laden’s security detail,” the State Department said in a statement.

According to the State Department, al-Ghamdi fought alongside bin Laden against Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s. He participated in terrorist attacks in Tajikistan in the early 1990s and operated an Al Qaeda guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The State Department noted that in December 2001, al-Ghamdi fought in the Battle of Tora Bora, a U.S. military operation in eastern Afghanistan aimed at capturing or killing bin Laden in response to the September 11 attacks.

In a letter, al-Ghamdi pledged to abide by Al Qaeda’s line of succession and confirmed his role in the shura council. He has worked with senior Al Qaeda leaders, including Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi and the now-deceased Ayman al-Zawahiri.