Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law arrested, goes on trial in New York for ‘conspiring to kill U.S. citizens’

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

In this courtroom drawing, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, leans forward as he is handcuffed in U.S. federal court in Manhattan, after a hearing where he pleaded not guilty Friday, March 8, 2013, to plotting against Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s top spokesman. Elizabeth Williams/AP

Washington, March 8 (IANS/EFE) A New York court will try Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, for “conspiring to kill U.S. citizens,” the U.S. Justice Department announced linking him with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a heretofore sealed indictment in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.

Terrorism-related charges will be presented there against Abu Ghaith, who was captured by U.S. intelligence agents in Jordan within the past week, according to a communique signed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Bin Laden’s son-in-law is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty of conspiring with the late terrorist leader to cause more terrorists attacks like the Sept. 11 massacre but, at present, no date has been set for the start of the trial.

Abu Ghaith was a key figure in al-Qaida along with bin Laden and his assistant Ayman al-Zawahiri during at least 2001-02, acting as an occasional spokesman for the terror network and warning that “attacks similar to those of Sept. 11, 2001, would continue,” according to the indictment.

“No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America’s enemies to justice,” Holder said in his statement.

“To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” the attorney general said.

The U.S. Treasury Department has described Abu Ghaith as “the official spokesman of al-Qaida since his appointment to that position after the attacks of September 11, 2001”, adding that he also appeared in videos as “the mouthpiece of bin Laden.”

Abu Ghaith’s capture was made public Thursday morning when New York Republican Congressman Peter King said that officials from U.S. security agencies had informed him of it.

King, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the capture a “very significant victory” against al-Qaida and credited the CIA and FBI with catching him.

“Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al-Qaida,” said King. “I give the (Obama) administration credit for this: it’s steady and it’s unrelenting and it’s very successful.”

Osama was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in a May 2011 raid on his secret compound in Pakistan.

— IANS/EFE

rd/dg

IANS 2013-03-08 16:06:07

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