WASHINGTON, March 26, 2014 – Sulaiman abu Ghaith may soon be a life-long guest of the country he despises. On their second day of deliberations, a jury at the United States District Court in Manhattan found Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law guilty on three counts: conspiring to kill Americans; conspiring to provide material support to terrorists; and providing material support to terrorists. The three counts have a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
Ghaith’s defense was that he was only a spokesperson for al Qaeda and his infamous father-in-law and that he did not know about the 9/11 attacks until after they were over. However, testimony during the trial showed that Ghaith was one of the first persons bin Laden called to his Afghanistan cave immediately following the 9/11 attacks.
“Going to that man was the very first thing Osama bin Laden did on Sept. 11 after the terror attacks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan said, dismissing claims of non-involvement during closing arguments. “The defendant committed himself to al Qaeda’s conspiracy to kill Americans, and he worked to drive other people to that conspiracy.”
Abu Ghaith is the highest-ranking al Qaeda figure to be brought to trial in U.S. courts since 9/11. He was arrested in Turkey, where he had traveled to after living under house-arrest in Iran for the last decade. Abu Ghaith was seeking help from al Qaeda to move to another country; however, America’s CIA, working with Turkey’s MIT, was able to track his movements and arrest him in February, 2013.
Abu Ghaith, married to bin Laden’s oldest daughter Fatima, was proven to be aware of further air attacks being planned against the U.S. One witness for the prosecution was supposed to join Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, during Reid’s failed 2001 airline attack. The witness testified that he did not participate due to his parent’s warnings about being involved in terrorism.
Abu Ghaith, a firey orator, was videotaped delivering bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s message of hate. He himself thus provided the prosecution’s best testimony against him, even as his defense lawyer argued that no evidence proved that the former Kuwaiti teacher knew of the conspiracies.
In particular, “Convoy of Martyrs” puts Ghaith front and center over footage of a plane striking the World Trade Center towers. Ghaith’s testimony attempted to portray him as a recruiter for the violent jihadist group, while claiming his role was a religious one with the goal of encouraging all Muslims to “rise up against their oppressors.” Those videos showed images of Abu Ghaith seated next to bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders.
In one video, dated October 2001, Ghaith says ‘The storm of airplanes will not stop.” He is also recorded saying “Carrying out terrorism against the oppressors is a creed in our religion.”
Sentencing is scheduled for September 8, nearly 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, a little more than three years after bin Laden’s death. Attorney Stanley Cohen has said the will appeal in that it was “impossible under the circumstances to get a fair trial, given certain rulings, certain circumstances.”