Bin Laden's son-in-law guilty over bomb plot
Published 27/03/2014 | 02:30
Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law has been found guilty by a New York jury of conspiring to kill Americans in the failed "shoe bomb" plot.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qa'ida figure to go on trial on US soil since the September 11 attacks, faces life behind bars after he was convicted of two conspiracy charges and one count of aiding terrorism by delivering murderous threats as the group's spokesman.
The trial threw an unprecedented spotlight on bin Laden's mood in the hours after September 11 as Abu Ghaith told how he was summoned to meet the al-Qa'ida leader in an Afghan cave complex to reveal the terrorist network's involvement to the world.
Saajid Badat, a British "supergrass" convicted for his role in the failed "shoe bomb" plot to blow up passenger planes over the US, was a key prosecution witness in the first of a series of US terrorism trials in which he is scheduled to testify.
The verdict was a significant victory for the administration of President Barack Obama. US prosecutors wanted to demonstrate that they can pursue sensitive terrorism cases in a criminal courtroom and not rely, as Mr Obama's Republican foes demand, on military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.
Abu Ghaith (48), a Kuwaiti cleric, showed no emotion as he listened to the jury's unanimous verdict by simultaneous Arabic translation through earphones in a Manhattan federal courtroom with a view of the gleaming new World Trade Centre tower.
He will be sentenced in September.
Wearing a dark suit and open shirt, the balding Abu Ghaith cut a very different figure from the charismatic young preacher who appeared in propaganda videos next to bin Laden in a turban and camouflage vest.
The most damning evidence against him was his own words. In one video recorded on September 12, 2001, he is shown sitting beside bin Laden as al-Qa'ida claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In another, filmed about a month later, he warned Americans that the "storm of aeroplanes will not abate". Prosecutors said that this was a direct reference to the "shoe bomb" plot, which was already in the planning stages in Afghanistan, as Badat testified in closed circuit evidence from London.
In a third video, titled "convoy of martyrs", Abu Ghaith was shown preaching over scenes of a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers – proof of his role in aiding al-Qa'ida by recruiting young Islamic fighters, prosecutors said.
Abu Ghaith's lawyers claimed that his role was religious, even if his rhetoric was hateful. Stanley Cohen, the lead defence attorney, said that he would appeal after the judge rejected a request to call as a witness Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described September 11 mastermind, who said in a written statement that Abu Ghaith had no military role in al-Qa'ida. (©Daily Telegraph, London)