Former al Qaeda spokesman and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden Sulaiman Abu Ghayth was sentenced to life in prison in a Manhattan federal court Tuesday, the Justice Department announced.
“As the face and voice of al Qaeda in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks, [Sulaiman] Abu Ghayth conspired with Osama Bin Laden and others and announced to the world al Qaeda’s deadly intentions to continue to attack America,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. “For his role in al Qaeda’s plot to kill Americans, Abu Ghayth will now spend the rest of his life in prison. This case highlights our resolve to find and bring to justice – no matter how long it takes – those who plot to attack our citizens and our interests around the world.”
Abu Ghayth served alongside Bin Laden since at least the spring of 2001, “speaking on behalf of al Qaeda and in support of Bin Laden’s terrorist objectives, recruiting young men to join al Qaeda and its murderous mission against the United States, and warning that attacks similar to those of Sept. 11, 2001, would continue,” their statement explained. According to the New York Times, Abu Ghayth is the most senior bin Laden confederate to be tried in a U.S. civilian court since the attacks.
Abu Ghayth appeared with Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama’s successor, on September 12, 2001, calling upon “the nation of Islam” to make war upon “the Jews, the Christians, and the Americans.” He continued to speak and recruit for al Qaeda until 2002, at which point he was arrested after smuggling himself into Iran.
Jurors found him guilty — of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and providing material support to terrorists — in March of this year, after just six hours of deliberation. Abu Ghayth married Bin Laden’s daughter Fatima in 2008, although the jury was not told this, likely as part of the effort to ensure a fair trial.
“Sulaiman Abu Ghayth was the mouthpiece of murder and menace for al Qaeda,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghayth, Osama bin Laden’s propaganda minister, was exhorting others to pledge themselves to al Qaeda in the cause of murdering more Americans. It has been 13 years since that terrible day, but from the day Abu Ghayth was brought to the United States 19 months ago, justice for him has been swift and fair. Today, having been afforded a fair and impartial trial in an American civilian court at which a jury unanimously convicted him of material support to al Qaeda and conspiring to kill Americans, Abu Ghayth has been sentenced to life in prison.”
“No sentence can restore what was taken from the families of al Qaeda’s victims,” Bharara concluded, “but today’s sentence ensures that Sulaiman Abu Ghayth will never be free to incite or support mass murder again.”