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Ex-Al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with Bin Laden

Bin Laden's Son-in-Law Unexpectedly Testifies

NEW YORK (AP) -- In surprise testimony in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law recounted the night of the Sept. 11 attacks, when the al-Qaida leader sent a messenger to drive him into a mountainous area for a meeting inside a cave in Afghanistan.

"Did you learn what happened? We are the ones who did it," the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden telling him.

When bin Laden asked what he thought would happen next, Abu Ghaith testified that he responded by predicting America "will not settle until it kills you and topples the state of the Taliban."

Bin Laden responded: "You're being too pessimistic," Abu Ghaith recalled.

Bin Laden then told the onetime imam, "I want to deliver a message to the world. ... I want you to deliver the message," he said.

The testimony came at Abu Ghaith's trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Testifying through an Arabic interpreter, the 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born defendant said he went to Afghanistan for the first time in June 2001 because he had a "serious desire to get to know the new Islamic government in Afghanistan."

He said he met bin Laden when the al-Qaida leader, who was living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, summoned him after hearing that he was a preacher from Kuwait.

Abu Ghaith said bin Laden explained that the al-Qaida training camps involved so much weapons training and a rough, hard life that he wanted him to change that, to reach the hearts of recruits and show them another side of life.

Abu Ghaith said he knew bin Laden was suspected in terrorist attacks but still "wanted to get to know that person."

"I wanted to see what he had, what is it he wanted," he said.

The defendant testified that videos he made warning that there would be more attacks on Americans and trying to inspire others to join al-Qaida's cause were based on "quotes and points by Sheik Osama," including at threat in one video that "the storm of airplanes will not abate." He also denied allegations by the government that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

He said he stayed for two to three weeks after Sept. 11 in a cave in a mountainous part of Afghanistan with bin Laden and others because the "situation was tense and the roads were dangerous."

He testified that his videotaped sermons were religious in nature, and meant to encourage Muslims to fight oppression.

If "oppression befalls ... any category of people, that category of people must revolt," he said.

Abu Ghaith said his intention was not to recruit.

"My intention was to deliver a message, a message I believed in," he said. "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."

Abu Ghaith is married to bin Laden's eldest daughter, Fatima. According to Cohen, they were married in 2008 or 2009.

The defendant looked relaxed on the witness stand, wearing a blue shirt, open at the collar, beneath a charcoal-colored jacket. His hands were sometimes folded before him, though sometimes he waved or pointed them for emphasis.

The announcement that he would testify energized jurors, who became more animated as they looked around the courtroom as it filled. Some of them leaned forward and toward the witness as Abu Ghaith spoke.

Some of his answers went beyond the questions posed to him and led to a warning from U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who said he should answer directly and "save the speeches for some other time."

Kaplan did not immediately rule on Cohen's request that the defense be permitted to call Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-professed architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a witness via a video link from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is imprisoned.

Cohen said it wasn't the right time to pursue that request, which was denied by Kaplan on Tuesday but was renewed after Mohammed confirmed he would be willing to testify.

"I've got a few other things on the fire right now," Cohen said.

Join the discussion

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Debbie March 19 2014 at 5:25 PM

Oppression - This from people who basically treat women like animals. Women are for breeding and waiting on the men in their families. Women are not educated 90& of the time. They strap bombs to women and children and let them be blown up for their stupid cause. These people are idiots and are insane, and that includes Osama bin Laden. Nuts, Crazy, MENTALLY ILL. What kind of religion allows the murder of innocent people for some retarded cause. You want change, spark up conversations, don't go an blow people up and think their then gong to want to have a conversation with you. THEY WILL WANT YOUR BLOOD! JUST LIKE OSAMA'S BLOOD!! HE GOT WHAT HE DESERVED!!! I JUST WISH THE FAMILIES OF ALL THOSE PEOPLE HE KILLED IN THOSE TOWERS, COULD OF EACH HAD A TURN, BLOWING A HOLE IN HIM.

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sosafong March 19 2014 at 5:42 PM

It sounds like he is worried about his life. But I got something to say, "Don't worry about is buddy you got 12 virgins waiting for you". Damn idiots!

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2 replies
fay38 sosafong March 19 2014 at 5:46 PM

It's 72 virgins - all Catholic nuns.

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1 reply
judithalan fay38 March 19 2014 at 5:54 PM

72 virgins, all male.

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tlynnprice sosafong March 19 2014 at 5:46 PM

Virgin sheep? Baaaaaaa.

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RockNHula March 19 2014 at 5:34 PM

Mr. Cohen should realize his client will get a fair trial, and then should be rightfully executed. The United States needs to stop tickling the enemy. It is not because of military indecisiveness, but due to political indecisiveness, that we do not have what it takes to beat them. Allow our military to run the operation, and use special weapons against the enemy, and we'll rack up a huge body count. It's coming.

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2 replies
kathylock RockNHula March 19 2014 at 5:46 PM

Maybe above all else we still have ethics that guide us. Not only are we the most powerful nation but hopefully the most civilized.

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savannahswithgod RockNHula March 19 2014 at 5:59 PM

Only after another big body count on our side. All the West or East Coast? How about that missing Jet liner loaded with jars of Sarin or Bio weapons flying over the coast and some loon in the back opening a jar every few minutes and releasing that. All under the radar of course. Just had a big one fly over the house here in Ky, was very loud and pretty low. Of course take out Ky you have probably taking out part of the deficit of the American Budget, that's a help. Thanks Ky politicians, thanks Congress, thanks White House. Doesn't matter the party, they all are the Elite. New party in, still the Elite, still biz as usual.

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ttbs1031 March 19 2014 at 5:34 PM

Nearly 3,000 Americans were burned alive on 9/11, isn't it fitting that this bastard should enjoy the same fate?

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2 replies
savannahswithgod ttbs1031 March 19 2014 at 5:45 PM

C'mon now some jumped out the windows and stuff. And those in the Gov and Biz world had second thoughts on whether access into flying bombs should be at the cost of profits and a few dollars going to prevent that.

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seanbeam1 ttbs1031 March 19 2014 at 5:48 PM

Really...?? what about the hundreds of thousands of people we have killed in the name of terrorism... children and women bystanders... same fate.. yeah we should be treated the same way - Remember WE attacked their country first... Bush sr..attacked Iraq/Kuwait ...Somalia... hundreds of thousands killed and that was in 93 !
So we started this .... don't you forget ..or try to brainwash readers..!

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Hello Butch March 19 2014 at 7:30 PM

does your neighbor pay income tax. SS and medicare tax on the money she makes from home.

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teresij March 19 2014 at 5:39 PM

He wants us to kill him - death by America. We will make a martyr out of him. But he doesn't deserve to draw oxygen from the universe. He's not a man - he's a murderer and a monster who helped another deranged murderer do his evil works. That's not what religion is meant to be. Religion is supposed to help people be better and to love their fellow man. I see no love in the Muslim "religion". All I see is destruction - of anyone who doesn't believe the way they do and even destruction of themselves. In my view, that's not religion.

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3 replies
purplerain12316 March 19 2014 at 11:54 PM

Please don't think I'm a practicing Christian...because I'm not...I believe in God....and that's all....we all know that all nations are destroying all human's and one day way to soon earth will not be...

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1 reply
Blessed One X 20 purplerain12316 March 20 2014 at 8:00 AM

Humans not human's - another one who missed school. If you're not a practicing Christian, then believing in God isn't going to help you a bit without accepting and following Christ. Jesus said, "NO ONE comes to the Father BUT by me." You say "please don't think I am a practicing Christian because I'm not." Like it is something to be ashamed of? Hardly! If you want to see Heaven when this "earth will not be," best read what the Bible says about the only way to get to Heaven. It's a FREE gift for the asking. Your comment is screaming that you are ashamed of Christ - not a good thing.

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1 reply
wendy Blessed One X 20 March 20 2014 at 11:43 AM

The bible is a nice piece of fiction. Heaven is where/whatever we make it in our next life....IF we even get a next life. I do think Jesus was a great man but still not buying the whole "virgin birth" thing. And God and I have a very healthy relationship. He said to tell you ALL to lighten up and just LOVE each other, for God's sake. For real, for God's sake, just STOP fighting about every little thing and find his true meaning. Geez.

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bahystyck March 19 2014 at 5:40 PM

Turn his sorry ass over to Seal Team 6.

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cmcgarty March 19 2014 at 6:24 PM

I don't believe him, that he wasn't a conspirator and wanted to kill Americans like Bin Laden. Why did he want to get to know such a man, why would he to have to live in a cave like a animal, just so he could preach the words of Mohamed.

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1 reply
duquetrona cmcgarty March 19 2014 at 6:52 PM

if he only would preach the words of Mohamed he would not preach jiad because the words of mohamed are peace much like the Catholic religion there are no such a word in the koran that preaches to murder innocent or anyone for that matter only the radicals who still think its ok to stone a woman for looking at another man or cutting a mans hand of for stealing these are all old ways that have been taught them since there early years and for centurys we cannot hope to reeducate a whole nation so it will go on and on foreever

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Ray March 19 2014 at 6:26 PM

I belive this man wouldd say anything to save his ass

Flag Reply +9 rate up
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