News / USA

Jurors to Weigh US Charges Against Bin Laden Relative

In this courtroom sketch, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Suleiman Abu Ghaith, right, testifies at his trial, March 19, 2014, in New York, on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group.
In this courtroom sketch, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Suleiman Abu Ghaith, right, testifies at his trial, March 19, 2014, in New York, on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group.
Reuters
Before the smoke had cleared from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden had asked a fiery Kuwaiti teacher and imam to recruit more fighters for al-Qaida, a U.S. prosecutor said in closing arguments of the man's trial on Monday.
 
The preacher, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, then used his position as an al-Qaida spokesman to conspire to kill Americans, the U.S. government says. It says Abu Ghaith also provided and conspired to provide material support and resources to terrorists.
 
“This man's purpose was to strengthen al-Qaida and solidify its future,” the prosecutor, John Cronan, said in closing the government's case, repeatedly pointing at Abu Ghaith, who sat a few feet away.
 
Abu Ghaith faces life in prison if convicted by a New York federal court jury, which is scheduled to begin deliberations on Tuesday.
 
His lawyer, Stanley Cohen, said in his closing argument that the government had no evidence of conspiracy and said its case was “an invitation to unsupported and outrageous speculation.”
 
Abu Ghaith, 48, is one of the highest-ranking figures linked to al-Qaida to face a civilian jury on terrorism-related charges since the hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York's World Trade Center, Washington and Pennsylvania.
 
He later married one of the daughters of al-Qaida founder bin Laden, who was killed in May 2011 by U.S. forces at his hideout in Pakistan.
 
Prosecutors contend that Abu Ghaith knew about a shoe bomb plot attempted by Briton Richard Reid in late 2001.
 
During their closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors showed jurors several videos and transcripts in which Abu Ghaith praised the Sept. 11 hijackers and beckoned young Muslims to join the fight. In one, from October 2001, he warned that “The storm of airplanes will not stop.”
 
“It's no surprise that a man like that knew exactly what was coming from al-Qaida,” Cronan said.
 
Cronan emphasized how Abu Ghaith repeatedly used words such as “we,” “us” and “our” when discussing al-Qaida. In one, Abu Ghaith, who testified last week that he had not joined al-Qaida, said “Our martyrdom personnel are ready and eager to carry out operations against American and Jewish targets.”
 
“Without people like him, al-Qaida dies with every suicide attack,” Cronan said.
 
In closing arguments for the defense, Cohen accused the government of trying to overwhelm jurors with videos of Abu Ghaith ranting about attacks, but not providing evidence that he knew of any plots against the United States.
 
“It was designed to prevent you from looking at the evidence or the lack of evidence,” Cohen told the jurors.
 
Cohen also questioned the integrity of several government witnesses, including an expert on al-Qaida, Evan Kohlmann. Kohlmann, Cohen said, is unqualified and had hardly any familiarity with Abu Ghaith, whom the government argued became a leader in al-Qaida after Sept. 11, 2001.
 
“The best evidence the defense has is the government's own witnesses,” Cohen said.
 
Cohen also attacked Saajid Badat, a convicted former al-Qaida operative who testified for the government from an undisclosed location in Britain. Badat said he had helped plan the shoe bomb plot with Reid, but could not recall meeting Abu Ghaith.
 
Cohen also said the government has not sought to extradite Badat to the United States, where he is under indictment for his role in the shoe bomb plot, because it needs him to testify in terrorism trials.
 
“Why would they?” Cohen said. “He's their boy.”
 
Abu Ghaith's messages on videos, Cohen said, “remain words, words and associations, and that's it.”
 
In a rebuttal, another prosecutor, Michael Ferrara, told jurors that Cohen was trying to distract them. The moment Abu Ghaith agreed to help bin Laden, he was guilty, Ferrara said.
 
“Don't let [Abu Ghaith] run from the evidence,” Ferrara said.
 
The case is U.S. v. Abu Ghayth, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 98-cr-01023.

You May Like

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More