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Prosecutor: Al-Qaeda recruited bin Laden relative

24 March 2014, 19:39

New York - Osama bin Laden's son-in-law was recruited to be al-Qaeda's spokesperson after the 9/11 attacks and spread a message of hate against America that would inspire more would-be Muslim militants to join its cause, a prosecutor said on Monday in closing arguments at the son-in-law's terrorism trial.

Bin Laden used the spokesperson, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, "to send a message - a message that al-Qaeda's attacks on 11 September were justified that the United States got what it deserved," Assistant US Attorney John Cronan said in federal court in Manhattan.

Abu Ghaith, an imam from Kuwait, delivered fiery videotaped sermons intended to drive "more men to al-Qaeda and its mission. Al-Qaeda needed these young men to be its next generation of terrorists."

He added: "This man's purpose was to justify mass murder to al-Qaeda recruits and to the entire world."

The prosecutor told jurors the evidence against the defendant, including audio and videotapes of him speaking on behalf of al-Qaeda, is overwhelming.

He also argued that Abu Ghaith's own testimony at the trial showed he had full knowledge of the terrorist group's goals and was willing to advance them.

Taking the witness stand last week, Abu Ghaith recounted how he was summoned to meet with bin Laden in a cave on the night of 11 September. When the attacks came up in the conversation, bin Laden told him, "We are the ones who did it," he testified.

"I want to deliver a message to the world. I want you to deliver that message," Abu Ghaith said bin Laden told him.

The next day, Abu Ghaith was recorded sitting next to bin Laden and saying, "We are capable of engaging in this confrontation." The jury also heard audio of the defendant warning, "The storm of airplanes will not stop."

Cronan cited another recording in 2002 in which Abu Ghaith assured his audience that bin Laden was in good health, arguing it was further proof the defendant was a trusted al-Qaeda insider.

"How many people on the planet knew Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man on the planet, was in good health?" Cronan said.

Abu Ghaith, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to kill Americans and provided material support to al-Qaeda. The defence has never disputed that Abu Ghaith associated with bin Laden after 9/11, but it contends he was recruited as a religious teacher and orator, and had no role in plotting more attacks.

The defence was to give its closing arguments later on Monday.

- AP


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