Bin Laden son-in-law convicted at terror trial - FOX 35 News Orlando

Bin Laden son-in-law convicted at terror trial

Posted: Updated:
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER

NEW YORK (AP) — Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, the voice of fiery al-Qaida propaganda videotapes after the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans for his role as the terror group's spokesman.

The verdict came after about five hours of deliberation in the case against Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks. The Kuwaiti imam had testified during a three-week trial that he answered bin Laden's request in the hours after the attacks to speak on the widely circulated videos used to recruit new followers willing to go on suicide missions like the 19 who hijacked four planes on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The storm of airplanes will not stop," Abu Ghaith was heard warning in an October 2001 video that was played for the jury.

Also shown repeatedly to the jury during the trial were frames of a video made Sept. 12, 2001, that showed Abu Ghaith seated next to bin Laden and two other top al-Qaida leaders as they tried to justify the attacks.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 8. The charges carry a potential penalty of life in prison.

On Monday, during closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan underscored the importance of Abu Ghaith's post-9/11 status.

"Going to that man was the very first thing Osama bin Laden did on Sept. 11 after the terror attacks," he said. "The defendant committed himself to al-Qaida's conspiracy to kill Americans, and he worked to drive other people to that conspiracy."

He added: "During the most important period of time in al-Qaida's savage history, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was Osama bin Laden's principal messenger. ... He used his fiery oratory to incite al-Qaida's growing army of terror in this war with America."

The jury returned a guilty verdict on three charges: conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiring to provide support to al-Qaida and providing support to al-Qaida.

Captured in Jordan last year and brought to New York, Abu Ghaith has actively participated in his trial. He listened to testimony and arguments through headphones linked to an Arabic translator.

Taking the witness stand in his own defense, Abu Ghaith in a calm voice denied he was an al-Qaida recruiter and claimed his role was a religious one aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors. He insisted he agreed to meet with bin Laden in a cave on the night of Sept. 11 out of respect for bin Laden's standing as a sheik.

"Despite knowing that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, you met with him to be polite, correct?" prosecutor Michael Ferrara asked on cross-examination.

"I didn't go to meet with him to bless if he had killed hundreds of Americans or not. I went to meet with him to know what he wanted," Abu Ghaith said.

Government witnesses included an FBI agent who interviewed him on a 10-hour flight to the United States and a Buffalo, N.Y.-area man who testified that he heard him speak in Afghanistan several months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Another witness was a British man who was supposed to join Richard Reid in a shoe-bomb attack in December 2001 but who quit the conspiracy during a trip home after his parents warned him that he better not be a terrorist. He did not know Abu Ghaith, but prosecutors introduced the evidence to show Abu Ghaith knew what he was talking about when he warned that air attacks against the United States would continue.

Abu Ghaith's defense lawyer, Stanley Cohen, argued there was "zero evidence" that the 48-year-old former teacher knew of the conspiracies the government claimed he knew about. Citing the videos of his client, Cohen warned jurors not to let prosecutors "intimidate you and to frighten you into returning verdicts not based upon evidence, but fear."

Those videos, though, emerged as the centerpiece of the government's case. One — titled "Convoy of Martyrs" — features Abu Ghaith preaching over horrific footage of a plane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers. Another showed the defendant looking at bin Laden admiringly as the al-Qaida leader boasted that he knew the attack would make both towers fall.

Prosecutors used Abu Ghaith's testimony and closing arguments as an opportunity to reshow the image of the burning towers to jurors.

In his closing, Cronan used the defendant's testimony against him.

"Accept it as totally true. If you do that, he's guilty," Cronan said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Police: 5 suspects wanted in Central Park attack

    Police: 5 suspects wanted in Central Park attack

    Saturday, August 23 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-08-23 16:27:52 GMT
    Police are looking for five suspects in a Central Park pellet attack they're investigating as a hate crime.
    Police are looking for five suspects in a Central Park pellet attack they're investigating as a hate crime.
  • Almost all NYC pre-K centers ready

    Almost all NYC pre-K centers ready

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:48 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:48:37 GMT
    Nearly all 1,100 facilities providing services in the city's new universal pre-kindergarten program are ready to open on time after passing health and safety inspections. City officials said Friday they expect the eight remaining pre-K schools to remedy violations by Sept. 4's opening day. If they don't, affected children will be temporarily enrolled in other facilities.
    Nearly all 1,100 facilities providing services in the city's new universal pre-kindergarten program are ready to open on time after passing health and safety inspections. City officials said Friday they expect the eight remaining pre-K schools to remedy violations by Sept. 4's opening day. If they don't, affected children will be temporarily enrolled in other facilities.
  • Mark David Chapman

    John Lennon's killer denied parole again

    John Lennon's killer denied parole again

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:10 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:10:09 GMT
    John Lennon's killer was denied release from prison in his eighth appearance before a parole board, New York corrections officials said Friday. The decision on Mark David Chapman by a three-member board came after a hearing Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections said. Chapman fired five shots on Dec. 8, 1980, outside the Dakota apartment house where Lennon lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side, hitting the ex-Beatle four times.
    John Lennon's killer was denied release from prison in his eighth appearance before a parole board, New York corrections officials said Friday. The decision on Mark David Chapman by a three-member board came after a hearing Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections said. Chapman fired five shots on Dec. 8, 1980, outside the Dakota apartment house where Lennon lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side, hitting the ex-Beatle four times.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices