Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was an Al Qaeda spokesman following the 9/11 attack, was convicted on Wednesday on charges of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists.
Abu Ghaith, 48, was found guilty by a federal jury in New York after a three week trial during which the Kuwaiti-born cleric had recounted meeting the slain Al Qaeda leader in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan hours after the 9/11 terror attack.
The jury which gave a unanimous verdict on the second day of deliberations in the trial in United States district court in Manhattan. Abu Ghaith was convicted on three counts of conspiracy to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to do so. He faces life in prison on the count to conspire to kill Americans while the others counts each carry maximum terms of 15 years.
He is the senior most adviser to bin Laden to be tried in a civilian United States court following the September 11 attacks. Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said Abu Ghaith more than just bin Laden's propaganda minister who used his position and power to persuade more people to kill Americans on behalf of Al Qaeda.
"A jury unanimously found that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith not only conspired to provide, and actually provided, material support to Al Qaeda, but also conspired to kill Americans. He was more than just Osama bin Laden's propaganda minister," Bharara said in a statement.
"Within hours after the devastating 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith was using his position in Al Qaeda's homicidal hierarchy to persuade others to pledge themselves to Al Qaeda in the cause of murdering more Americans.
"Like the others who have faced terrorism charges in Manhattan's federal courthouse before him, Abu Ghaith received a fair trial, after which a unanimous jury rendered its verdict, justly holding him accountable for his crimes. We hope this verdict brings some small measure of comfort to the families of the victims of Al Qaeda’s murderous designs," Bharara added.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said Abu Ghaith was the spokesman, confidant, and senior adviser to bin Laden's organisation, like "a consigliere for the mob or the chief of staff to a corrupt foreign leader."
Abu Ghaith wanted to "better Al Qaeda's reputation at every turn, offering advice and counsel to the organisation's senior leadership. He encouraged others to abandon the true
tenets of their faith, swearing by the twisted ideology of Al Qaeda," he said adding that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force would continue pursuing anyone who supports "this radical, violent terrorist agenda."