March 27, 2014 08:38
A jury in New York has convicted a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden on terrorism charges for his role as a fiery al-Qaeda spokesman.
Kuwaiti-born imam Suleiman Abu Ghaith was found guilty on three terrorism charges, including conspiring to kill Americans. He is the highest-ranking aide to Osama bin Laden to be tried in a U.S. civilian court.
The jury of nine women and three men was shown video of Abu Ghaith sitting next to bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders the day after the September 2001 attacks.
In another video, from October 2001, Abu Ghaith threatened a "storm" of airplanes against Britain and the United States would not stop.
Abu Ghaith unexpectedly testified in his own defense, denying he was a recruiter for al-Qaeda. He said his role was religious and aimed at inspiring Muslims to rise up against oppressors. He said he knew of no terrorism plots in advance.
Jurors were not told Abu Ghaith was married to bin Laden's eldest daughter in 2008 or 2009.
Lead defense attorney Stanley Cohen said he would appeal. He said the judge should have allowed testimony by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"There is evidence this jury should have heard and could not hear, there are witnesses they should have access to and could not," said Cohen.
Fordham University Center on National Security Director Karen Greenberg said the trial showed that U.S. civilian courts can try terrorism cases.
"Terrorism cases fall between issues of war and issues of crime there is no getting around that, and the challenges are somewhat different than in normal criminal justice cases," she said. "And the law has evolved since 9/11 to handle that, and the procedures and the law are able to handle these cases, and this case shows that."
Abu Ghaith, who is 48, faces a possible life term in prison when he is sentenced in September.
A U.S. commando raid killed bin Laden in a 2011 assault on the Pakistani home where he was living.
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