Osama bin Laden's son is being hunted by UK special forces as part of a top-secret "kill or capture" operation, it has been claimed.

Hamza bin Laden, believed to be aged in his late 20s, has been taking a more leading role in terror group al-Qaeda ever since his father was shot dead by US Navy Seals in his Pakistan hideaway in 2011.

He is now said to be "active" and plotting an attack on the West in revenge for his father's death.

A Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit, which includes 40 SAS soldiers, have reportedly been flown in to Syria on a covert mission to find Hamza and those hiding him.

An unnamed intelligence source said the hunt would use the best technology available, including drones and voice-recognition systems.

They told the Daily Star: "Technology is at the forefront in tracking people such as Hamza, but a source on the ground who has identified him and gained additional intelligence is worth his weight in gold.

"To track someone you need to know where to look. We rely on local sources and you cannot beat the 'Mark One Eyeball' when it comes to human intelligence gathering.

"Hamza will be found sooner or later, he will make a minor mistake and we will be waiting for him."

As a boy, Hamza became a familiar figure in al-Qaeda propaganda videos where he was seen holding his father's rifle and taking part in military training with other children.

He re-emerged in 2015 when he was officially announced by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as an official member of the terror group. Hamza could be heard in the propaganda message calling for terror attacks in western capitals.

Another audio message from the so-called "Crown Prince of Terror" emerged the following year where he issued chilling threats to Americans vowing to target them in the US and abroad.

And earlier this year he released a new propaganda message calling on followers to carry out lone-wolf-style attacks on Jews and the West.

The 10-minute video, titled: "Advice for Martyrdom-Seekers in the West", called on jihadists around the globe to "avenge the children of Syria, the widows of Palestine, the women of Iraq, and the orphans of Afghanistan."

The video shows images of terrorists who have carried out successful attacks in the West, as Hamza speaks.

"Be perfect in your choice of targets, so that you may damage your enemies more," the video exhorts.

"Be professional in your choice of weapons. It is not necessary that it should be a military tool. If you are able to pick a firearm, well and good; if not, the options are many."

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who was the bureau's lead al-Qaeda investigator following the September 11 attacks, said earlier this year that Hamza's potential as a leader was recognised even as a child.

"He was a poster kid for the al-Qaeda," he said. "And for members of al-Qaeda, who were indoctrinated with these propaganda videos, he means a lot to them."

Soufan added: "His recent message that came out, he delivered the speech as if it's his father...using sentences, terminology that was used by Osama bin Laden."

The US has named Hamza a "specially designated global terrorist" – the same classification his father was once given.