News / USA

Terror Trial for Bin Laden Son-In-Law Opens in New York

FILE - Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman.
FILE - Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman.
Carolyn Weaver
Federal prosecutors in New York say that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti imam known for his fiery preaching, moved to Afghanistan in spring 2001 to join Osama bin Laden's inner circle.  He visited terror training camps there, they said, to rally fighters.

Hours after the September 11 terror attacks, they say, he appeared next to Osama bin Laden in a video that celebrated the attacks and urged Muslims around the world to pick up arms to fight "the friends of Satan."

Over the next year, said prosecutor Nicholas Lewin, Abu Ghaith made more videos seeking new recruits for al-Qaida - its "lifeblood" - and threatening further attacks, including what he called a "storm of airplanes," against Britain and the United States.

Abu Ghaith, who is married to the eldest daughter of Osama bin Laden, Fatima, is charged with conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to al-Qaida.  He faces life in prison if convicted.
                                                             
Abu Ghaith's defense attorneys say the case is only about words and associations.  Attorney Stanley Cohen called Abu Ghaith a "Muslim, an Arab, a husband, and a father."  He added that while the defendant had said "terrible" things that would outrage the jury, the only correct verdict was not guilty.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security, said attorneys on both sides had agreed not to mention that Abu Ghaith was a son-in-law of bin Laden.    

"Part of this is going to hinge on how close he was to bin Laden, which is what the prosecution opened with today, and so having that taken away, it's one piece of how close he was to Bin Laden," she said.

Abu Ghaith, who pleaded not guilty a year ago, is not accused of involvement or advance knowledge in the September 11 attacks.  Defense lawyers have said they may seek testimony by the self-admitted plotter of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held in the prison at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, to vouch that Abu Ghaith was not an al-Qaida operative.

Abu Ghaith was brought to New York from Jordan last year, after having lived in Iran for much of the last decade. Prosecutors plan to play for jurors a confession he reportedly made on the flight, but defense attorney Cohen has said the statement was made only after Abu Ghaith "was subjected to a variety of deprivation techniques and harsh treatment which constitute torture."

The jury of nine women and three men will also hear testimony from two cooperating witnesses, including a British man, Saajid Badat, who will testify in a video feed about plotting with "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.  Reid's failed attempt came several weeks after Abu Ghaith made a video saying,"We strongly advise Muslims in America and Britain not to board airplanes," prosecutors said.

The other is a man who will testify about hearing Abu Ghaith call for jihad in Afghanistan.  Officials say he is the highest-ranking bin Laden associate yet to be tried in the U.S.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs