How Osama bin Laden's son-in-law ended up in a New York courtroom

After years of gunning down al Qaeda leaders, the Obama administration is putting Sulaiman Abu Ghaith on trial in federal court

A man identified as Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, delivers an undated video address.
(Image credit: REUTERS)

Just as we're starting to have a national discussion on drone warfare, and the legal and ethical issues of killing suspected terrorists (and sometimes bystanders) using remote-controlled aircraft, the Obama administration threw a curveball. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a high-level al Qaeda adviser and spokesman — and a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden — was reportedly arrested in Turkey a few weeks ago, nabbed by the CIA in Jordan as he was being deported to his native Kuwait, and spirited to New York City, where he will appear in court today.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Abu Ghaith detailing terrorism-related charges, including conspiring to kill Americans, that could earn him a life sentence. An influential Muslim preacher in Kuwait, Abu Ghaith moved to Afghanistan in 2000, met bin Laden, married his daughter Fatima, and, according to the indictment, urged Muslims in Afghanistan to swear allegiance to bin Laden. Abu Ghaith also agreed to help bin Laden, when asked, on the night of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Since 2002, he has reportedly been living in Iran.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.