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Bin Laden's Son-in-law Pleads Not Guilty in Terror Conspiracy



Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, a former al-Qaida spokesman, has pleaded not guilty in a New York court to a charge that he conspired to kill Americans.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was captured by U.S. operatives in Jordan, appeared in federal court Friday and entered his plea through a court-appointed lawyer.

He was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, then unshackled. Bearded and wearing a blue prison uniform, he nodded to the judge that he understood his rights and shook his head 'no,' that he did not have money to hire an attorney.

Prosecutor John Cronan said Abu Ghaith gave authorities an "extensive post-arrest statement" that totaled 22 pages. The prosecutor gave no details about what Abu Ghaith said.

The judge in the case said he would set a trial date at a hearing next month. If convicted, Abu Ghaith faces life in prison.

Abu Ghaith is married to bin Laden's daughter, Fatima. He is the closest relative of bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people, to face trial in the U.S.

In the indictment against him, the U.S. accuses Abu Ghaith of celebrating the 2001 attacks in videos and on Internet sites, while warning that al-Qaida was entitled to kill millions more Americans. Prosecutors say that on the day after the attacks, he urged the "nation of Islam" to war against Jews, Christians and Americans.

Abu Ghaith's trial in New York would be one of the first prosecutions of senior al-Qaida leaders on U.S. soil. Most terror suspects connected to the 2001 attacks have been taken to the Guantanamo Bay detention site in Cuba, and Republican critics of President Barack Obama said that should also have happened in Abu Ghaith's case.



Critics of the Obama administration say that terror suspects should be treated as enemy combatants and tried in military tribunals, where they have fewer rights than those accorded U.S. criminal suspects in civilian courts.

A Turkish newspaper reported that Abu Ghaith was seized at a luxury hotel in the capital, Ankara. Sources said he was then deported to Jordan, where U.S. intelligence agents took him into custody. Turkish officials refused to comment on the report.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the arrest shows U.S. resolve to bring to justice those responsible for the 2001 attacks.

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