Bin Laden’s son-in-law convicted of conspiring to kill Americans

March 26, 2014

 

NEW YORK — In a quick decision, a jury convicted Osama bin Laden‘s son-in-law of conspiring to kill Americans in his role as the angry voice of Al Qaeda after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Sulaiman abu Ghaith, 48, faces life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 8.

The case has given the public its first and possibly only chance to watch a terrorism trial related to the 2001 attacks unfold in civilian court. Unlike other high-profile terrorism suspects accused of crimes arising from the attacks, Abu Ghaith bypassed the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after his arrest last year.

Instead, he was brought directly to New York, where his trial began March 5 just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

The case hinged in part on the importance of Abu Ghaith’s role as a spokesman for the terror group. Prosecutors maintained it was an important one.

“This man was not Osama bin Laden’s puppet,” said Jonathan Cronan, an assistant U.S. attorney, as he pointed his finger at Abu Ghaith during the trial “He was not a robot.

But Abu Ghaith’s defense attorney, Stanley Cohen, dismissed the government’s case as based not on evidence but on recordings and videos, including one showing hijacked jets slamming into the World Trade Center towers and the buildings enveloped in black smoke.

“It was intended to sweep you away … in anguish and pain,” said Cohen, comparing the prosecution’s case to a movie.

“The movie’s over, the lights are back on, and we’ve walked out of the theater. Let’s look at the evidence,” he said, before dismissing the government’s allegations as “speculation” and its witnesses as liars or frauds.

Also shown repeatedly to the jury during the trial were frames of a video made Sept. 12, 2001, that showed Abu Ghaith seated next to Bin Laden and two other top Al Qaeda leaders as they tried to justify the attacks.

Jurors deliberated roughly five hours before convicting Abu Ghaith of conspiring to kill Americans, providing material support to terrorists; and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-ghaith-convicted-20140326,0,5107319.story#ixzz2yEGRhJtQ

Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

March 19, 2014

 

NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law offered a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, recounting during surprise testimony Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom how the two met that night in a cave in Afghanistan.

“Did you learn about what happened … the attacks on the United States?” the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden asking him.

The testimony came as Abu Ghaith’s trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group took a dramatic turn. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden seemed worried that night and asked what he thought would happen next. Abu Ghaith said he predicted America “will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden responded: “’You’re being too pessimistic,’” Abu Ghaith recalled.

Abu Ghaith said he wasn’t involved in recruiting aspiring terrorists and denied allegations that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

His lawyers said they were hopeful that another part of Abu Ghaith’s testimony, that he had met self-professed Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, would cause the federal judge overseeing the trial to reconsider his decision to exclude Mohammed from testifying via videotape from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-al-qaida-spokesman-to-testify-at-new-york-trial/2014/03/19/2b2b3a5a-af71-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

NY judge rules against ex-bin Laden spokesman

November 26, 2013

 

Statements Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law made to U.S. authorities when he was brought to the United States earlier this year can be used against him at a terrorism trial next year, a federal judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected claims by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith that he was not properly informed of his right to a lawyer and that he was abused on a 14-hour flight to the U.S. earlier this year. He also refused to toss out the charges.

Abu Ghaith is scheduled for trial early next year on charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kaplan ruled after conducting a lengthy hearing. Abu Ghaith’s interview with FBI agents resulted in a 22-page statement after his Feb. 28 arrest in Jordan.

Kaplan said government agents who testified about the questioning of Abu Ghaith produced “consistent and credible testimony” while Abu Ghaith chose to rely on an affidavit rather than testify.

Kaplan said the “evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that Abu Ghaith was treated humanely while aboard the airplane.”

A month after 9/11, Abu Ghaith called on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”

“The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, God willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life,” he said in the Oct. 9, 2001, speech.

Two days before that, he sat with bin Laden and current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri against a rocky backdrop and spoke for nearly five minutes in one of the terror group’s most widely watched propaganda videos.

Abu Ghaith’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

 

AP: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ny-judge-rules-against-ex-bin-laden-spokesman

Al-Jazeera America faces steep climb among U.S. viewers

RNS) Al-Jazeera and America, two name brands often at odds since 9/11, were wed as one on Tuesday (Aug. 20) when the Qatar-based media network began broadcasting its U.S. news channel Al-Jazeera America from New York.

 

This is not the first time Al-Jazeera has tried to find a home on American TV. Al-Jazeera English debuted with an international focus in 2006 but was never picked up in major media markets outside the Northeast.

 

From CNN to MSNBC to Fox, the leading cable and satellite news channels all struggled to gain and hold viewers, credibility and profit for years after their launch. But for Al-Jazeera America, deep-seated prejudices among some U.S. audiences are likely to make this uphill slog even steeper.

 

With some 800 journalists and staff and bureaus in 12 U.S. cities, Al-Jazeera America bills itself as a network committed to “rebalancing global media by respecting the diversity and humanity of the world” and “giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Although once ranked among Apple, Google, Ikea and Starbucks as one of the world’s most influential brands, many Americans still view Al-Jazeera with suspicion — in part because of  Al-Jazeera’s decision to air messages it received from Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.

The take-away for many viewers was that Al-Jazeera was nothing more than a mouthpiece for terrorists.

Some influential commentators continue to label Al-Jazeera anti-American or to imply the network is somehow a front for terrorism. For many Americans, perceptions of the network are tied up with negative feelings toward the Middle East, Arabs and Islam.

“I’m afraid the terms Middle East, Arab and Muslim are all often lumped together under Muslim,” said Roger Owen, professor of Middle East history at Harvard University.

John Esposito, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understandingand the author of several books on contemporary Islam, said Al-Jazeera America will have to deal with a segment of the population that is biased against Islam.

The Tampa-based Florida Family Association, which opposes what it perceives to be the “Islamization” of America, recently launched a campaign demanding major companies stop advertising on the channel.

Bin Laden Relative With Qaeda Past to Have New York Trial

WASHINGTON — Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the charismatic al-Qaida spokesman, fundraiser and son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, is likely to have a vast trove of knowledge about the terror network’s central command but not much useful information about current threats or plots, intelligence officials and other experts say.

Abu Ghaith pleaded not guilty Friday to conspiring to kill Americans in propaganda videos that warned of further assaults against the United States as devastating as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Weeks after he was first arrested in Turkey, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who once served as a spokesman for Al Qaeda will appear in a New York courtroom on Friday to face terrorism charges that could result in life imprisonment.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who is married to one of Bin Laden’s daughters, Fatima, is to be charged with conspiracy to kill Americans, according to an indictment released Thursday. Justice Department officials described him as a propagandist who they believe has not had an operational role in Al Qaeda for years and did not participate in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, or in any plots against the United States. But one law enforcement official said that Mr. Abu Ghaith, 47, was the most senior Qaeda figure to face criminal trial in New York since America’s war against the terrorist network began.

Mr. Abu Ghaith was a Muslim preacher and teacher in Kuwait who spoke out against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In 2000, he traveled to Afghanistan, where he met Bin Laden and eventually married one of his daughters. He attracted wide attention in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks by making statements defending the attacks, some of them carried on Al Jazeera.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday, Mr. Abu Ghaith appeared with Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, who was then Bin Laden’s deputy, and warned the United States and its allies that a “great army is gathering against you.” He called upon “the nation of Islam” to do battle against “the Jews, the Christians and the Americans.”

The arrest of Mr. Abu Ghaith was the rare occasion in which a Qaeda operative was detained overseas rather than killed. The Obama administration has expanded the use of targeted killing operations in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, asserting that they are justified when there is no possibility of capture.

Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment.

 

Using Billboards to Stake Claim Over ‘Jihad’

CHICAGO — There is an advertising war being fought here — not over soda or car brands but over the true meaning of the word “jihad.”

Backing a continuing effort that has featured billboards on the sides of Chicago buses, the local chapter of a national Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been promoting a nonviolent meaning of the word — “to struggle” — that applies to everyday life.

Supporters say jihad is a spiritual concept that has been misused by extremists and inaccurately linked to terrorism, and they are determined to reclaim that definition with the ad campaign, called My Jihad.

But last month another set of ads, with a far different message, started appearing on buses here.

Mimicking the My Jihad ads, they feature photos and quotations from figures like Osama bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010. “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” says one ad, attributing the quotation to a Hamas television station. They end with the statement: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”

The leader of the second ad campaign, Pamela Geller, executive director of the pro-Israel group American Freedom Defense Initiative, has criticized the original My Jihad ads as a “whitewashed version” of an idea that has been used to justify violent attacks around the world.

 

Man Is Accused of Jihadist Plot to Bomb a Bar in Chicago

An 18-year-old suburban Chicago man, who the authorities say was enamored with Osama bin Laden and intent on killing Americans, has been arrested after attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar, officials said Saturday. There was never any danger that the suspect, Adel Daoud, would actually detonate a bomb. The plot, which ended with Mr. Daoud’s arrest on Friday, was proposed by undercover F.B.I. agents posing as extremists, according to a statement released by the United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.

Mr. Daoud, a United States citizen who lives in Hillside, Ill., on the outskirts of Chicago, has been under surveillance for months, and in multiple conversations with agents expressed a desire to kill on a mass scale as revenge for what he believed was the persecution of Muslims by the United States, according to court papers.

Adel Daoud first came to the attention of the authorities in October 2011, when he sent out e-mails “relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans,” according to an affidavit in support of the complaint. At one point he sent out several e-mails with a PowerPoint presentation titled “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” in which he defended Bin Laden’s tactics.

“Osama wasn’t crazy for wanting to destroy America,” he wrote. “This superpower killed millions of people.”

Mr. Daoud remained in custody after being charged in United States District Court on Saturday with one count of an attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempting to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive.

Lawyers for the defendants in such cases have typically accused the government of entrapment, arguing that their clients would never have acted without being coerced by undercover agents.

Agent: Chemicals, other bomb-making material found in Saudi man’s apartment

AMARILLO, Texas — Federal agents who searched the Texas apartment of a Saudi man accused of gathering materials to make a bomb found sulfuric acid and nitric acid, among other things, an FBI agent testified Friday.

During the first day of testimony in the trial of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, Special Agent Aaron Covey walked jurors through the 22-year-old former chemical engineering student’s apartment in West Texas using photos taken hours after Aldawsari’s Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Prosecutors contend Aldawsari gathered bomb components with the goal of targeting sites across the U.S.

Prosecutors presented more than 80 exhibits Friday, many of them photos that gave jurors a first look at Aldawsari’s sparsely furnished apartment near Texas Tech University.

Aldawsari came to the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He transferred in early 2011 to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, paid his tuition and living expenses.

In his opening statement earlier Friday, Cogdell called his client a failure who never presented a true threat.

Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was “time for jihad,” or holy war. He bemoaned the plight of Muslims and said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden’s speeches.

FBI bomb experts have said they believe Aldawsari had sufficient components to produce almost 15 pounds of explosive — about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.

Bin Laden’s personal letters reveal Muslims are part of the solution to securing the United States

On the heels of the one-year milestone of Osama bin Laden’s death, the U.S. government recently released a series of letters and messages bin Laden sent to colleagues and subordinates around the world. Among other things, the documents reveal bin Laden to have been a man who became increasingly isolated and irrelevant to Muslims due to his ceaseless bloodshed and the growing power of the Arab Spring protest movement.
Reading between the lines, the documents reveal something else from which all of us can benefit – the power of seeing Muslims as partners – rather than as obstacles – in combating violent extremism. The effects of this vision manifest themselves through the documents in at least two important ways, but the overarching point is this: It is time to underscore the vital, positive role American Muslims play in contributing to not just U.S. national security, but to the diverse religious and cultural fabric of our nation, of which we are so proud.
Learning from bin Laden’s documents can positively affect our messaging as our nation fights to push back on al Qaeda’s narrative. Bin Ladin understood that words impact perceptions, and therefore knew that his choice in language had the power to create realities for his benefit. Throughout his violent career, bin Ladin sought to push the narrative that the West was at war with Islam. When U.S. officials used religiously-laden terms such as “violent Islamist terrorism,” “Islamo-fascism,” and the like, they unknowingly played into this narrative and strengthened the impact of the terrorist’s message.

Irish citizen taken off UN list of al-Qaeda supporters

 

A Libyan born naturalized Irish citizen has been taken off a list of the UN Security Council imposing sanctions on suspected al-Qaeda supporters. The individual has tried for three years to clear his name from the list. No reasons for removing him from it were given.

The UN Security Council list of al-Qaeda supporters imposes sanctions on those mentioned, including a travel ban, a freeze of assets and a weapons embargo.

Described as a “close associate” of Osama bin Laden, he has been accused of providing logistical and financial support to al-Qaeda cells in Europe and other alleged terrorist organisations. The individual himself has denied all charges.