Abu Ghaith repeatedly made unambiguous and bone-chilling threats… Simply put, the defendant eagerly supported Al-Qaeda and its mass murder of Americans.
– Federal prosecutors
A Manhattan federal judge sentenced Abu Ghaith to life imprisonment Sept. 23. Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected the defense's argument that Ghaith was like an "outrageous daytime 'shock-radio' host, or a World War II radio propagandist for a losing ideology."
US prosecutors seek life in prison for bin Laden relative and al-Qaida post-9/11 spokesman
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith testified on his own behalf March 19 in a surprise move by the defense. He recounted being with Osama bin Laden the night of the Sept. 11 attacks. Abu Ghaith said he met bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001 when the Al-Qaeda leader asked him to lecture at terrorist training camps.
My intention was to deliver a message, a message I believed in… I was hoping the United States would say, 'Let's sit down and talk and solve these problems,' but America was going on and doing what I expected them to do.
– Sulaiman Abu Ghaith
Through an Arabic interpreter, Ghaith testified March 19 that his threatening videos were religious in nature and meant to inspire Muslims to fight against oppression, not to recruit.
U.S. citizen Sahim Alwan testified under subpoena on March 6 about his experience at Osama bin Laden's Al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan in 2001. He said he watched a video of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 U.S. sailors. Prosecutors showed the video and said Abu Ghaith narrated it.
Those tasked with giving statements to the media do not necessarily know all the details of an operation and are sometimes even unaware of the very existence of the operation.
– Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Defense lawyers filed statements by Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, on March 16. He said Abu Ghaith "had nothing to do with military operations." The judge allowed defense lawyers in February to interview Mohammed.
Mastermind of 9/11 attacks says bin Laden son-in-law had no role in planning
Abu Ghaith said he left Afghanistan in 2002 and went to Iran, where he was arrested and held for years. He eventually was able to leave for Kuwait to see his family. While en route through Jordan in 2013, U.S. intelligence intercepted him.
INTERNATIONAL - US captured Bin Laden son-in-law on the way to Kuwait
During federal court proceedings in early Oct. 2013, Abu Ghaith's attorneys argued that sensory deprivation including earmuffs and blackout goggles during his extradition to the U.S. left him disoriented and that his statements during an in-flight interrogation should be inadmissible as evidence.
Lawyer says bin Laden's son-in-law was disoriented during interrogation