Bin Laden son-in-law faces terror charges

2013-03-08 08:24

New York - Osama bin Laden's son-in-law has been detained by US authorities and is due to appear in court in New York on Friday on charges he plotted with the al-Qaeda leader to stage attacks on Americans.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, reportedly a 47-year-old Kuwaiti and allegedly one of the chief propagandists of the al-Qaeda network, stands accused of conspiring "to kill nationals of the United States", the department said.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the arrest showed that the United States would never relent in its pursuit of the militants who launched the attacks of 11 September 2001 on New York and Washington.

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," Holder said.

"To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message," he said.

"There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Guantanamo Bay

His capture is unusual as President Barack Obama's administration has focused on killing al-Qaeda figures in bombing raids using unmanned drone aircraft, primarily in the tribal belt of Pakistan.

A Turkish newspaper had reported earlier that Ghaith was seized by US authorities at a hotel in Ankara last month and was deported to Jordan, before being taken to the United States.

But FBI and CIA officials declined to comment on how Bin Laden's son-in-law ended up in behind bars on American soil.

Republican lawmakers immediately denounced the Obama administration for not sending the suspect to the US military's prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he could be held indefinitely and prosecuted under special military tribunals.

"When we find somebody like this, this close to bin Laden and the senior al-Qaeda leadership, the last thing in the world we want to do, in my opinion, is put them in a civilian court," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

"This man should be in Guantanamo Bay," Graham said.

Threats to Americans

The chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, agreed.

"Al-Qaeda leaders captured on the battlefield should not be brought to the United States to stand trial. We should treat enemy combatants like the enemy - the US court system is not the appropriate venue," Rogers said.

US authorities accuse Ghaith of assisting Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief who was gunned down in a 2011 raid by American commandos, and of taking to the airwaves to promote al-Qaeda's war against America after the 9/11 attacks.

According to the indictment he allegedly threatened Americans, warning them that a "great army is gathering" and "the storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm".

The indictment also stated Ghaith was "smuggled successfully from Afghanistan into Iran" in 2002.

Ghaith is one of number of al-Qaeda militants who were known to be in Iran after the 9/11 attacks but their precise status - and whether they were placed under house arrest by the Iranian authorities - has remained unclear.