News / USA

Bin Laden Son-in-Law Gives Unexpected US Trial Testimony

FILE - Undated video screengrab provided by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman.
FILE - Undated video screengrab provided by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman.
Reuters
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, unexpectedly testified on Wednesday at his trial on terrorism-related charges and denied that he had any role in al-Qaida plots against the United States.

Abu Ghaith, 48, is one of the highest profile people with purported links to al-Qaida to be tried in a U.S. civilian court. Prosecutors in federal court in New York have accused him of serving as a spokesman and recruiter for al-Qaida and of knowing about planned attacks against Americans.

Under questioning from his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, Abu Ghaith described meeting Osama bin Laden, a founder of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan just hours after the hijacked plane attacks of Sept.11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

After driving several hours into the mountains, Abu Ghaith said that he met bin Laden and several of his lieutenants, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian now considered al-Qaida's leader, inside a cave. Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 by U.S. forces at his hideout in Pakistan.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden asked him if he had heard about the attacks. Abu Ghaith said he first learned about the attacks from news reports.

"We are the ones who did it," bin Laden said, according to Abu Ghaith. "What do you expect to happen?"

Abu Ghaith, who was speaking through an interpreter, said he predicted that the United States would not rest until it had accomplished two things: killing bin Laden, and toppling the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

"He said, 'You are being too pessimistic,'" Abu Ghaith told jurors.

He acknowledged making several videos at bin Laden's request, including one in which he warned that a "storm of airplanes" was coming, but denied that he had any advance knowledge of other plots, such as the shoe bomb that Briton Richard Reid attempted to detonate aboard an airplane in 2002.

Instead, he said, bin Laden asked him to deliver a "message to the world" in his role as a speaker and an imam. His speeches were based on talking points that bin Laden gave him, he said.

He also claimed that some videos were an attempt to counter the propaganda against Muslims from the United States.

"My intention was not to recruit anyone," he said. "My intention was to deliver a message, a message I believed in, that oppression, if it befalls any nation, any people, any category of people, that category must revolt. What happened was a natural result of the oppression that befell Muslims."

Abu Ghaith also said he never became a member of al-Qaida. A teacher and imam in Kuwait, Abu Ghaith said he traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in June 2001 to learn about the newly installed Taliban.

While there, he received a message from bin Laden asking for a meeting. Despite knowing that bin Laden was suspected of planning the attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, he said he agreed.

"I wanted to see what he had, what it is that he wanted," he said.

"Did you ever discuss terrorist attacks?" Cohen asked.

"No," Abu Ghaith said. "Not at all."

Abu Ghaith said that before Sept. 11, 2001, his contribution to bin Laden's organization consisted of giving religious speeches to fighters at training camps in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden, he said, told him that the camps were a "hard life," full of "weapons, training, roughness." He asked him to speak to the men to give them "merciful hearts."

Abu Ghaith's decision to testify came a day after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that jurors would not hear testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mohammed is being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Abu Ghaith said on Wednesday that he met Mohammed while in Afghanistan but that they did not discuss any planned attacks.

You May Like

Ebola Brings Sickness, Fear, Anger

Cornell University Professor Stacey Langwick considers cultural, social aspects of outbreak More

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Violent Quarantine Clashes Hamper Liberia's Struggle to Contain Ebola

Anger, misinformation and mistrust of government hampering efforts to contain the deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid