A top al-Qaeda member and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden was charged on Thursday with conspiring to kill Americans in his position as bin Laden's spokesman who heralded the multi-attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Officials said Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a/k/a “Suleiman Abu Gayth," who was born in Kuwait and was bin Laden's propagandist, was captured in Jordan over the last week. He will appear Friday in U.S. federal court in New York, according to a Justice Department statement and indictment outlining the accusations against Abu Ghaith.
Efforts by Law Enforcement Examiner to learn why Abu Gayth is being held by civilian authorities instead of being detained at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military detention met with negative results.
However, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “Al-Qaeda leaders captured on the battlefield should not be brought to the United States to stand trial. We should treat enemy combatants like the enemy –- the U.S. court system is not the appropriate venue. The President needs to send any captured al-Qaeda members to Guantanamo.”
Rep. Peter King, D-N.Y., the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, congratulated the CIA and FBI for capturing the al-Qaeda propagandist in Jordan within the last week.
“No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America’s enemies to justice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“While New York City must remain vigilant to continued terrorist threats against it, Abu Ghayth’s apprehension and prosecution promises to close another chapter in al-Qaeda’s notoriously violent history of killing Americans,” said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“This case also represents another success in the ongoing partnership between federal agents and NYPD detectives through the [Joint Terrorism Task Force] JTTF,” Kelly added.
“It has been 13 years since Abu Ghayth allegedly worked alongside Osama bin Laden in his campaign of terror and 13 years since he allegedly took to the public airwaves, exhorting others to embrace al-Qaeda’s cause and warning of more terrorist attacks like the mass murder of 9/11,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The memory of those attacks is indelibly etched on the American psyche, and today’s action is the latest example of our commitment to capturing and punishing enemies of the United States, no matter how long it takes.”
According to the Justice Department, since 1989, al Qaeda has been an international terrorist organization dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence. Osama bin Laden served as the leader, or “emir,” of al-Qaeda until his death on or about May 2, 2011. Members of al-Qaeda typically have pledged an oath of allegiance, called bayat, to bin Laden and to al-Qaeda.
The core purpose of al-Qaeda, as stated by bin Laden and other leaders, is to support violent attacks against property and nationals, both military and civilian, of the United States and other countries, according to the Justice Department.
Between 1989 and 2001, al-Qaeda established training camps, guest houses, and business operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries for the purpose of training and supporting its agenda of violence and murder. Members and associates of al-Qaeda have executed a number of terrorist attacks, all in furtherance of the organization’s stated conspiracy to kill Americans, including the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, which killed approximately 2,976 people.
From at least May 2001 up to around 2002, Abu Ghayth served alongside Osama bin Laden, appearing with bin Laden and his then-deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization and in support of its mission, and warning that attacks similar to those of Sept. 11, 2001, would continue.
Also, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Abu Ghayth delivered a speech in which he addressed the then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell 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 indictment charges Abu Ghayth with participating in a conspiracy to kill United States nationals, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b). The offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of life. No trial date has yet been set in the case.