New York, NY, United States (4E) – The civilian court trial of al-Qaeda spokesman and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, got underway at the Manhattan Federal Court off Foley Square, just blocks from Ground Zero, on Monday.
Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York selected the jurors, who will decide whether or not Abu Ghaith is guilty of the charges of conspiring to kill Americans after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and for supporting terrorists while working as al-Qaeda spokesman around the time of the 9/11 attacks.
About two dozen people were questioned by the judge as Abu Ghaith listened through an interpreter.
Prosecutors plan to use as evidence a picture of Abu Ghaith seated with bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders on the day after 9/11, as they make statements about the attacks. Other evidences are post-9/11 videos showing him with Bin Laden and current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri as well as Abu Ghaith promised speaking of more attacks on the U.S.
Abu Ghaith had pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyers on Friday argued that he is the wrong man being charged and prosecutors’ evidence refers to a Guantanamo detainee with the same name. Kaplan, however, rejected the mistaken identity claim.
Abu Ghaith, 48, was born in Kuwait and is married to bin Laden’s eldest daughter Fatima. He worked as an imam and high school teacher before heading to Afghanistan in 2000.
Jordanian authorities captured Abu Ghaith in Amman in March 2013 on a flight to Kuwait and turned him over to the U.S.
Before his extradition, the U.S. High-Value Interrogation Group interrogated him while he was detained in Turkey. He was released on Feb. 28, 2013 and took a flight to Kuwait but the plane landed in Jordan, where he was arrested.