Bin Laden son-in-law's fate in hands of U.S. jury

NEW YORK Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:23pm EDT

1 of 4. Suleiman Abu Ghaith listens during his trial on terrorism charges in federal court in New York in this March 24, 2014 court sketch.

Credit: Reuters/Jane Rosenberg

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal jury in New York on Tuesday began deliberating whether or not to convict a son-in-law of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden of conspiring to kill Americans and other terrorism-related charges.

Prosecutors have accused Suleiman Abu Ghaith of acting as a spokesman and recruiter for al Qaeda in the days after the September 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.

The 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born preacher is the highest-profile bin Laden adviser to face trial in a U.S. civilian court since the attacks. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in May 2011 at his hideout in Pakistan. The purported mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured and is being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The surprise of Abu Ghaith's three-week trial was his decision to testify in his own defense. Abu Ghaith denied that he knew of any plots against Americans or ever became a member of al Qaeda as the U.S. prosecutors charge.

Abu Ghaith acknowledged meeting with bin Laden in an Afghanistan cave hours after the September 11 attacks, where he said he first learned that al Qaeda was responsible. Abu Ghaith later married a daughter of bin Laden.

He would appear in several videos at bin Laden's behest, including one filmed the following day, in which he told the United States that the attacks were a "natural" result of American foreign policy toward Muslims.

The U.S. government claimed that the videos served as recruiting tools and showed Abu Ghaith knew of al Qaeda's plans to detonate a shoe bomb aboard an airplane, a plot that failed when Briton Richard Reid attempted it in December 2001.

"Sitting next to Osama bin Laden, Abu Ghaith spoke to the world," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan said during his closing argument on Monday.

But Abu Ghaith's lawyers have argued that mere "words and associations," however offensive, are not enough to convict him.

"The videos do their job because they alarm you ... and that's why they're here," defense lawyer Stanley Cohen said.

Abu Ghaith faces life in prison if convicted on the charges of conspiring to kill Americans, providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to provide such support.

The case is U.S. v. Abu Ghayth, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 98-cr-01023.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Grant McCool)

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Comments (2)
Ci_Devant wrote:
All it takes is one US liberal who believes a) nothing can be proved, b) I’m a Christian, and c) I’m retired and living off the government and a modest inheritance from my aunt. And, he’ll walk.

Mar 26, 2014 12:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Ci_Devant wrote:
Give him Americans citizenship a place to stay , government handouts [welfare, free medical care and all the other government benefits, treat him with better rights than Americans. America is doing it anyway with illegal immigrants, trying to take GOD out of America, promoting homos as normal, Integration without assimilation, Liberalism, and as always Lowering their standards to pacify blacks and now illegal immigrants. Lets all continue to help a incompetent muslim name president bring this country down while kissing is asre and allowing him to do anything he wants, treating him like a sacred cow armed with the race card and doing Nothing about it! Foolish Americans gather around and make history for hope and change by the first half-black person with a background of questionable and sealed past. Thanks medias for lowering your standards because of greed, getting rich by being bought to be bias and promote a fraudulent election with the brainwashed consent of Americans being fooled because they are such easy subjects!.

Mar 26, 2014 12:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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