Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who also served as one of the Al-Qaeda leader’s top advisers, was convicted Wednesday for conspiring to kill Americans and giving material support to terrorists. Abu Ghaith is a cleric who has garnered a reputation for his skills as an orator, most famous for his recorded speeches for bin Laden, which featured the Al-Qaeda leader expressing his joy about the success of the attack on the U.S., and promises of more to come.
Abu Ghaith took the witness stand last week, and gave an in-depth account of a meeting he had with bin Laden the night of the 9/11 attacks in a cave burrowed deep into the side of a mountain. He said that bin Laden asked him if he heard about the attack, and then went on to claim responsibility for what happened. Bin Laden then asked Abu Ghaith to help him put out a message to the world. This testimony seemed to put the nail in the coffin, as the jury finally came to a verdict after starting a third week of deliberations.
Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law was found guilty in the terror trial of three counts consisting of conspiracy to kill Americans, providing material support to terrorists, and conspiring to provide material support. Conspiracy to kill Americans could land Abu Ghaith a life sentence, while the other charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years each.
The Al-Qaeda adviser was captured last year and was brought to America to face charges for allegedly being involved in terrorist activities. Abu Ghaith’s lawyers attempted to downplay the role that their client played in the Al-Qaeda organization, attempting to convince the jury that he had no involvement or knowledge of terrorist plots being carried out or of any in the planning stages. Stanley L. Cohen, one of Abu Ghaith’s attorneys, stated that his client was not always speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization, but simply fulfilling his duties as an imam or religious leader.
The prosecution had a strong rebuttal for the defense, which consisted primarily of photographs featuring Osama bin Laden and Abu Ghaith, proving the two had a very close relationship. Video and photos also showed the jury that he had connections with other high-ranking individuals in the Al-Qaeda organization. Jury members felt this evidence combined with testimony from Abu Ghaith, was enough to convict.
While many might think that those who are caught engaging in terrorist activities or supporting those kind of actions should be tried by the military, the truth of the matter is that the system worked. A villain, a man who spoke on behalf of an organization responsible for killing thousands of Americans was brought to justice and given due process. While the judicial system is certainly flawed and makes a lot of mistakes, conducting fair trials for this type of criminal activity demonstrates to the world that the principles of freedom are not uniquely American, but apply to all human beings. The only individual who will be punished here is the person who is guilty of a crime, rather than the innocent people who could have been hurt if the government had used a drone to deliver justice. The country should rejoice that the system worked, that Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law has been found guilty in a fair trial, and justice will be served.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell