Trial to Begin for Osama Bin Laden's Son in Law

Trial begins tomorrow for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden. The "spokesman" for Al-Qaida is charged with conspiracy to kill United States nationals, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and providing material support and resources to terrorists.

The Government claims that prior to 9/11, he urged others to swear an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden and told Osama he would help him by giving speeches and appearing in al Qaeda propaganda for the purpose of recruiting additional al Qaeda personnel. It claims that Osama bin Laden sought a meeting with him on 9/11, and that after 9/11, he made speeches and videos in support of al Qaida. It also claims he had advance knowledge of Richard Reid's shoe bomb attempt and made speeches supporting it, which the Government claims, amounts to providing material support to terrorists.

Abu Ghaith, prior to his arrest, was an Iman and high school religion teacher. [More...]

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama's driver, is expected to be a defense witness, via video link.

The defense wanted to present a written statement from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but since Mohammed's lawyers won't agree if military lawyers can see it, the Judge refused to allow it. In this motion, The defense says Mohammed would repudiate the Government's claims that Abu Ghaith had advance knowledge the shoe bomb attack. The Government does not intend to call Richard Reid on this issue, but a confidential informant believed to be Saajid Badat, who allegedly worked with Reid and backed out of a planned second shoe bomb attempt. Badat has testified in other trials.

The defense also says that Mohammed would refute the Government's contention that Abu Ghaith was a member of al Qaeda or provided material support to it or conspired to to do so.

The Government's evidence includes a speech Abu Ghaith gave a month after the 9/11 attacks in which he said:

"The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, G-d willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life."

Here is DOJ's press release announcing the charges against Abu Ghaith and describing his statements and assistance to al Qaeda.

around May 2001, Abu Ghayth urged individuals at a guest house in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to swear bayat to Bin Laden. On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the United States, Bin Laden summoned Abu Gayth and asked for his assistance and he agreed to provide it. On the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, Abu Ghayth, appeared with Bin Laden and Zawahiri, and spoke on behalf of al Qaeda, warning the United States and its allies that “[a] great army is gathering against you” and called upon “the nation of Islam” to do battle against “the Jews, the Christians and the Americans.”

...Also, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Abu Ghayth delivered a speech in which he addressed the then-U.S. Secretary of State and warned that “the storms shall not stop, especially the Airplanes Storm,” and advised Muslims, children, and opponents of the United States “not to board any aircraft and not to live in high rises.

The defense also claims that some of the statements attributed to him were made by someone else, and that the Government has confused him with a Guantanamo suspect with a similar name, Abdul Rahman Abdul Abu Ghityh Sulayman, aka Abu Ghayth Sulayman. The judge denied a defense motion seeking additional documents on its claim.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Assuming the basis for the charges (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:19:58 PM EST
    against this guy are only as described in your post, J, which is all I know about the case, I would say that he is entitled to a dismissal on First Amendment grounds, as explicated by the Supreme Court in decisions from 1961 to 1969 on appeal from prosecutions of Communist Party leaders and Ku Klux Klan demagogues.

    It does kinda sound like... (none / 0) (#2)
    by unitron on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:42:56 PM EST
    ...all they've really got him on is felony "sayin' stuff we don't like".

    That and... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:30:20 PM EST
    sins of the father-in-law in the first degree.