Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law Pleads Not Guilty in NY Court to Conspiracy Charge
Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who also acted as a spokesman for al Qaeda, pleaded not guilty today (Friday) in New York to a charge of conspiracy to kill Americans.
Ghaith, 47, appeared before Judge Lewis A. Kaplan at the U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, close to the World Trade Center site.
The court appearance comes just one day after it emerged he had been captured in Jordan and brought to the U.S. to stand trial.
Abu Ghaith was originally picked up in Turkey, from where he was deported to Jordan. He was detained in a secret operation involving the FBI and Jordanian authorities.
While the Justice Department and FBI would not discuss the case, his transfer to the U.S. was initially confirmed by former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Representative Peter King.
Abu Ghaith appeared in videos making statements on behalf of al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C. in 2001. In one post-9/11 video he said: "My beloved, we carried out what God ordered us to. We didn't make anything up, we only applied what God ordered us to."
In another video in which he was pictured next to bin Laden, Abu Ghaith ordered the "nation of Islam" to choose the right path in the "decisive battle between apostasy and faith."
U.S. officials said he has been "cooperating" with authorities since his arrest, with one official describing Abu Ghaith as a "heavy-duty'' operative. Some officials, however, believe he was a propagandist who has not had an operational role in al Qaeda for many years.
Mr. King said: "I commend our CIA and FBI, our allies in Jordan, and President Obama for their capture of al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith. I trust he received a vigorous interrogation, and will face swift and certain justice.
"Propaganda statements in which Abu Ghaith and his late father-in-law, Osama bin Laden, praised the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are alone enough to merit the most serious punishment."
Mr. King added: "Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al Qaeda. I give the Obama administration credit for this: it's steady and it's unrelenting and it's very successful."