Judge Allows Comments By Bin Laden’s Spokesman In Trial
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — 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. 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.
The Kuwaiti-born Abu Ghaith has said he was detained for more than a decade in Iran, where he went after leaving Afghanistan in 2002. Abu Ghaith said he was released from Iranian custody on Jan. 11, when he entered Turkey, where he was detained and interrogated before he was released on Feb. 28. He said he was heading home to Kuwait to see family when his flight landed instead in Amman, Jordan, where he was handcuffed and turned over to American authorities.
He said he was interrogated with few breaks on a cold plane, given only a small bottle of water and one orange to eat.
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.
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