News / USA

Bin Laden Son-in-law Faces Trial in US on Terror Charges

FILE- An artist sketch shows Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a militant who appeared in videos as a spokesman for al-Qaida after the September 11, 2001 attacks, appearing at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, March 8, 2013.
FILE- An artist sketch shows Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a militant who appeared in videos as a spokesman for al-Qaida after the September 11, 2001 attacks, appearing at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, March 8, 2013.
Reuters
Suleiman Abu Ghaith, one of Osama bin Laden's sons-in-law and a former spokesman for al-Qaida, heads to trial next week in New York on terror-related charges in a case that could feature testimony from several al-Qaida figures.

Prosecutors have accused Abu Ghaith of conspiring to kill Americans immediately after the deadly September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, just blocks away from the federal courthouse where his trial will take place.

Specifically, the government contends that Abu Ghaith spent time in Afghanistan with bin Laden shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and recorded several statements threatening further attacks against Americans.

Lawyers for Abu Ghaith have argued in court papers that the government has failed to show that Abu Ghaith was a member of al-Qaida, that he was aware of any plots against the United States or that he was involved in the planning of any attacks.

The Kuwaiti is one of the highest-profile defendants to face federal terror charges. In addition to conspiring to kill Americans, he is also charged with providing material support and resources to terrorists and conspiring to provide such support.

As in other terror cases, an anonymous jury will hear the trial, which is scheduled to commence with the selection of jurors on Monday.

Al-Qaida figures could testify

The trial is the latest event in a debate over whether radical militants should be tried as combatants before military commissions rather than as criminal defendants in civilian courts.

Advocates of the latter point to Justice Department statistics that show the government has brought nearly 500 terror-related cases in federal courts since September 11, 2001. In contrast, only eight individuals have been convicted via military commissions; six pleaded guilty, while the two who were convicted after a trial later saw their convictions overturned.

The Abu Ghaith trial could include testimony from a number of al-Qaida members, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom Abu Ghaith's lawyers claim can provide testimony that their client was not a part of any conspiracy to attack Americans.

On February 19, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan delayed the trial by a week to allow them to submit written questions to Mohammed, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for several years awaiting his own trial there before a military tribunal.

The defense is also seeking to introduce testimony from Salim Hamdan, bin Laden's former driver, who was the plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that found the military commissions unconstitutional.

Hamdan, now in Yemen, was found guilty under a revised system, but his conviction was overturned in 2012 when a federal appeals court found that providing support for terrorism was not a war crime at the time of his alleged conduct.

Like Mohammed, Hamdan can testify that Abu Ghaith did not participate in any plots against Americans, defense lawyers have said.

Shoe bomber

Prosecutors, meanwhile, will introduce testimony via video feed from a former al-Qaida member in Great Britain that Abu Ghaith was aware in advance of the group's failed attempt to blow up airliners using explosives hidden inside attackers' shoes.

The witness has not been named in court papers, but based on the government's description, it appears to be Saajid Badat, the so-called second shoe bomber who plotted with Richard Reid to execute the plan before deciding not to follow through.

Badat, a British citizen, pleaded guilty in Britain and is cooperating with the government; he has previously testified in other terror cases, including the successful prosecution in Brooklyn federal court of Adis Medunjanin for planning a suicide bomb attack on New York City subways.

In 2010, Kaplan oversaw the trial of Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court. He was acquitted of all but one charge in connection with the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa but was still sentenced to life in prison.

Kaplan will also preside over the trial this fall of Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anas al-Liby, a Libyan seized by U.S. forces in October, and two other defendants, all charged in connection with the embassy bombings. Abu Ghaith was captured abroad last year.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid