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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

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

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
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.

AppleAndroid