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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid