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 Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora