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The Journal Gazette

Friday, December 20, 2013 5:03 pm

NY case against ex-bin Laden spokesman boosted

By TOM HAYSAssociated Press

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and former spokesman gave a speech a few months after 9/11 saluting the attacks and warning that more strikes by al-Qaida were on the way, U.S. prosecutors said in court papers made public Friday.

In the 2002 speech, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith began by praising a recent suicide bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia, then said that "we were granted victory when the world saw with its very own eyes what the mujahedeen did for God the Almighty in New York and Washington," the papers allege.

Abu Ghaith also claimed that "our martyrdom units are also ready and prepared to carry out operations against American and Jewish targets inside and abroad," the papers add.

The new allegations were contained in an updated indictment against Abu Ghaith filed in federal court in New York City, where he's scheduled to go on trial next year. New charges of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and providing such support were added.

Abu Ghaith has already pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. His lawyers said Friday that the new charges filed so close to trial must be scrutinized.

Prosecutors had previously alleged that 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-Zawahiri against a rocky backdrop and spoke for nearly five minutes in one of the terrorist group's most widely watched propaganda videos, U.S. authorities said.

The Kuwaiti-born Abu Ghaith has claimed he was detained for more than a decade in Iran, where he went after leaving Afghanistan in 2002. He remained in Iranian custody until January of this year, when he entered Turkey and was again detained and interrogated until his release in late February.

Abu Ghaith 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. Last month, a federal judge rejected defense claims that he was not properly informed of his right to a lawyer and that he was abused on a 14-hour flight to the United States.

If convicted, Abu Ghaith faces life in prison.


Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.