OSAMA BIN LADEN SON-IN-LAW, SULAIMAN ABU GHAITH FACES TERRORISM CHARGES IN NEW YORK (VIDEO)…
Obama sneaks Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, to New York to face a federal court instead of to Guantanamo to face a military tribunal. What was Obama thinking? He should have be taken to Guantanamo. I shudder to think of all the repercussions we will suffer here from this action…
Story follows video…
From Wall Street Journal…
Bin Laden Kin Nabbed
Son-in-Law, Former al Qaeda Spokesman, Charged in New York
The U.S. seized a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who once served as an al Qaeda spokesman and flew him to New York to face trial, an antiterrorism coup that casts light on the group’s murky relationship with Iran.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was captured in Jordan, has been talking to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for several days in New York City, according to multiple people familiar with the case. He was captured after leaving Iran, which has sheltered remnants of the global terror group.
The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging Mr. Abu Ghaith with conspiring to kill Americans, and he is set to appear in federal court in Manhattan Friday morning. It was unclear Thursday if Mr. Abu Ghaith had a lawyer representing him.
The arrest has also reanimated the debate about whether terror suspects should be tried before civilian judges or military tribunals.
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s arrival in the city where al Qaeda terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, marked what may be the final stop in an odyssey that took him from his native Kuwait to Afghanistan by the side of his father-in-law and, around 2002, to Iran. He faces a life sentence if convicted.
“He was never an operational commander in al Qaeda, but in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he was the voice of al Qaeda,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. His biggest intelligence value now, Mr. Hoffman said, is to provide insight into what he called the “very perplexing and enigmatic” relationship between Iranian authorities and al Qaeda.
U.S. officials have long been trying to figure what Mr. Abu Ghaith and other al Qaeda figures were doing in Iran and how much leeway the Iranian government was giving them to operate their terrorist network.
U.S. officials believe that Iran last year gave new freedoms, including the option to leave the country, to Mr. Abu Ghaith and other members of what was known as al Qaeda’s management council in Iran. He was detained in Ankara, Turkey, last month on suspicion of entering that country with a false passport.
Turkey didn’t turn Mr. Abu Ghaith over to U.S. authorities, as Washington had initially wanted, but instead decided to deport him to Kuwait via Jordan, officials said. U.S. operatives then captured him in Jordan, which has worked closely with the U.S. in hunting terrorists, they said. Officials at the Turkish Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The suspect was flown to New York by the FBI last week, and he has been talking to interrogators since, said the people familiar with the case. Officials decided to file charges against him after he stopped cooperating.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the arrest shows “no amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America’s enemies to justice.” George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office, described Mr. Abu Ghaith’s position in al Qaeda as “comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime.”
Counterterrorism experts described Mr. Abu Ghaith as a 47-year-old former teacher and preacher. U.S. officials believe Mr. Abu Ghaith traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 and joined up with al Qaeda there. According to the indictment, on the night of Sept. 11, 2001, bin Laden summoned Mr. Abu Ghaith and requested his assistance.
The next morning, Mr. Abu Ghaith appeared with bin Laden and the al Qaeda leader’s then-deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He stated that a “great army” was gathering against the U.S. In another statement, he said millions of Americans would be killed.
In one October 2001 videotaped message, Mr. Abu Ghaith warned America that “the storms of planes will not stop until you drag your defeated tails from Afghanistan, not until you raise your hands from the Jews in Palestine, not until you lift the embargo on the Iraqi people, not until you leave the Arabian Peninsula, not until you stop supporting the Hindus against the Muslims in Kashmir.”
After the videos appeared, Kuwait stripped him of citizenship.
Many al Qaeda figures captured in the Middle East shortly after the 9/11 attacks were sent to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including the plot’s self-described mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Some, including Mr. Mohammed, now face military commission trials at Guantanamo, but the process has bogged down for years because of legal and logistical hurdles.
U.S. officials have said federal courts, such as the one in Manhattan where Mr. Abu Ghaith is set to appear Friday, are often a faster and surer way to try suspected terrorists. Men such as Ahmed Ghailani, accused of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab have been convicted in federal courts.
An Obama administration official said national security officials—including those at the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Department of Justice—unanimously agreed that Mr. Abu Ghaith should be prosecuted in federal court.
Some Republicans, however, said that top terror suspects like Mr. Abu Ghaith should be sent to Guantanamo. “Al Qaeda leaders captured on the battlefield should not be brought to the United States to stand trial,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “We should treat enemy combatants like the enemy.”
Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) an outspoken critic of some of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies, said in this instance he didn’t object to a civilian trial for Mr. Abu Ghaith, because he thought the videotapes and other public evidence would be enough to convict him without the need to disclose any sensitive intelligence.
It is unclear where a terror suspect would be sent if he is acquitted.
Since 2002, Mr. Abu Ghaith’s activities have been something of a mystery. U.S. officials believe he has been a member of al Qaeda’s so-called management council in Iran, a group formed in 2002 to advise bin Laden and provide support to the group’s leaders in Pakistan. Bin Laden was living in Pakistan when U.S. forces killed him in a May 2011 raid.
White House officials became angry when Turkey didn’t immediately hand over Mr. Abu Ghaith after his arrival in that country, said a former U.S. official familiar with the matter. The route to the U.S. through Jordan appears to have provided an alternative more palatable to Turkish officials.
The capture of Mr. Abu Ghaith is significant because it takes a key player out of the game and will provide “a much better firsthand understanding of the Iranian dimension to al Qaeda,” said Seth Jones, an al Qaeda specialist at the nonprofit research institution Rand Corp.
Iran has provided sanctuary in effect to several senior al Qaeda leaders over the years, said Mr. Jones. Some al Qaeda operatives fled to Iran when the U.S. opened its Afghan offensive in 2001.
Since then, these operatives have used their Iranian beachhead to communicate, move money and recruit members, Mr. Jones said. Some lower-level al Qaeda operatives also are believed to be in Iran. Why Mr. Abu Ghaith went to Turkey isn’t clear.
“For him to have actually left the country, he would definitely have known he was taking a big gamble,” Mr. Jones said.
The Iranian Mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.