Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and former spokesman was due back in a US federal court in New York Monday, a month after he pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, reportedly a 47-year-old Kuwaiti and allegedly a senior propagandist in the Al-Qaeda network, is accused of conspiring “to kill nationals of the United States.”
Former Army JAG Attorney Greg T. Rinckey of Tully Rinckey PLLC says it would be extremely difficult to find an impartial jury in an area so close to the twin towers.
At the March 8 arraignment, which followed a secret operation to bring Abu Ghaith to US custody, Judge Lewis Kaplan said he expected he would set a trial date at Monday’s hearing.
The prosecution of Abu Ghaith is being closely watched because of the defendant’s closeness to the late bin Laden, but also as part of President Barack Obama’s attempt to steer terrorism cases away from the controversial Guantanamo Bay military tribunals and into federal courts.
Amid mystery about the circumstances of his arrest, one of Abu Ghaith’s court-appointed defense lawyers said he was detained “by United States law enforcement” overseas on February 28, and was brought to New York on March 1.
The courthouse is just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, where the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001 by airliners hijacked by Al-Qaeda militants.