US: Bin Laden son-in-law must get life in prison

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US: Bin Laden son-in-law must get life in prison
In this courtroom sketch, from left, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith stands next to his attorney, Stanley Cohen, as courtroom deputy Andrew Mohan, reads the verdict and Judge Lewis Kaplan, right, listens, Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at federal court in New York. Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and the voice of fiery al-Qaida propaganda videotapes after the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans for his role as the terror group's spokesman. The verdict came after about six hours of deliberation over two days in the case against Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this undated image taken from video and released by the United States Attorney’s Office, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, left, addresses the camera as Osama bin Laden listens. On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, a federal jury sitting in New York returned a guilty verdict against Abu Ghaith, convicting him of conspiring to kill Americans. Abu Ghaith was al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States. The guilty verdict could send Abu Ghaith to prison for the rest of his life. (AP Photo/United States attorney’s Office)
In this courtroom sketch Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, right, testifies at his trial Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in New York, on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group. Listening to testimony are Judge Lewis Kaplan, upper left, and clerk Andrew Mohan, center left, as an image of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-professed architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, appears on a video monitor. In his surprise testimony, Abu Ghaith recounted the night of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when bin Laden sent a messenger to drive him into a mountainous area for a meeting inside a cave in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this courtroom sketch, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, right, testifies at his trial Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in New York, on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group. Listening to testimony are Judge Lewis Kaplan, center, and defense attorney Stanley Cohen, at podium. In his surprise testimony, Abu Ghaith recounted the night of the Sept. 11, 2001, 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," Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden telling him. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this March 3, 2014, courtroom sketch from files, defense attorney Stanley Cohen, right, sits next to a translator during the jury selection for Cohen's client Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, left, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, during Abu Ghaith's trial in New York on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. It can be an uncomfortable life for any defense attorney representing unpopular clients, but lawyers who agree to speak on behalf of people accused of plotting to kill Americans in terrorist attacks walk difficult road. Cohen says, “You get stigmatized. Folks avoid you. You get ostracized. It’s terrible for a mate to see terrible publicity, to see you vilified, to avoid social settings because you know it will lead to confrontations.” (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams, File)
In this courtroom sketch, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, left, listens as U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan stands to speak Monday, March 3, 2014 during jury selection at the start of Abu Ghaith's trial in New York on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. Abu Ghaith is Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks. Seated next to Abu Ghaith is a translater, next to defense attorney Stanley Cohen, right. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this courtroom sketch, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, left, listens as U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan stands to speak Monday, March 3, 2014 during jury selection at the start of Abu Ghaith's trial in New York on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. Abu Ghaith is Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks. Seated next to Abu Ghaith is a translater, next to defense attorney Stanley Cohen, right. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
In this courtroom sketch, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, center, in beige suit, stands next to his defense attorney Stanley Cohen Monday, March 3, 2014 during jury selection at the start of Abu Ghaith's trial in New York on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. Abu Ghaith is Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
The Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse, center, is the site of the trial for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Monday, March 3, 2014 in New York. Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, goes on trial Monday on charges he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's mouthpiece after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse is the site of the trial for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Monday, March 3, 2014 in New York. Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, goes on trial Monday on charges he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's mouthpiece after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
FILE - This image made from video provided by by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman. Abu Ghaith took the witness stand on his own behalf Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at his terrorism trial in New York, testifying that bin Laden asked him in 2001 to lecture to training camp recruits. The 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born defendant has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera, File)
In this courtroom drawing, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, leans forward as he is handcuffed in U.S. federal court in Manhattan, after a hearing where he pleaded not guilty Friday, March 8, 2013, to plotting against Americans in his role as al-Qaida's top spokesman. The case marks a legal victory for the Obama administration, which has long sought to charge senior al-Qaida suspects in U.S. federal courts instead of holding them at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accompanied by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill In Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2013, about the capture of Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith , Osama bin Laden's spokesman and son-in-law has been captured by U.S. intelligence officials, officials said Thursday, in what a senior congressman called a "very significant victory" in the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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By LARRY NEUMEISTER

NEW YORK (AP) - Osama bin Laden's son-in-law should be sentenced to life in prison for his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks, when he made "bone-chilling threats" against America, prosecutors said in court papers filed Monday.

The government said a life sentence for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, whose words were "inciting, murderous, and hateful," would send an important deterrent message to would-be terrorists.

"Terrorism is a crime with high recidivism rates and rehabilitation is notoriously difficult," prosecutors said.

The papers were filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan a month before a sentencing scheduled for Sept. 23. Abu Ghaith's defense lawyer, Stanley Cohen, had urged Judge Lewis A. Kaplan earlier this month to sentence his client to 15 years in prison, saying it was sufficient.

Abu Ghaith was convicted in March of charges that included conspiracy to kill Americans and providing support to al-Qaida. Abu Ghaith is a Kuwaiti-born imam who married bin Laden's eldest daughter about five years ago. He is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure brought to trial on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks.

In their papers, prosecutors said Abu Ghaith "proudly sat at bin Laden's right hand" after the Sept. 11 attacks, repeatedly participating in videos aimed at recruiting more people to al-Qaida.

"Abu Ghayth repeatedly made unambiguous and bone-chilling threats that al Qaeda would continue to conduct terrorist attacks using airplanes," prosecutors wrote.

"Simply put, the defendant eagerly supported al Qaeda and its mass murder of Americans," they said. "The significance of Abu Ghayth's spoken words is unmistakable. Inspirational and charismatic speakers like Abu Ghayth allow al Qaeda to refill its ranks of suicide operatives by driving more future terrorists to al Qaeda's murderous mission."

In his trial's most dramatic testimony, Abu Ghaith described being summoned to a dark Afghanistan cave within hours of the destruction of the World Trade Center to confer with bin Laden, who told him: "We are the ones who did it."

Abu Ghaith testified that a worried bin Laden asked him how America would respond.

"America, if it was proven that you were the one who did this, will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban," Abu Ghaith said he replied.

In his papers, Cohen said his client had no prior knowledge or role in the planning or execution of the Sept. 11 attacks or any other bombing or terrorist activity.

"His role was confined to speaking, after the attacks had already happened," he wrote.

Cohen said a sentence of 15 years would really be 25 years, since Abu Ghaith spent a decade in prison in Iran, much of it under extreme conditions which included abuse and torture.

But prosecutors disputed those claims, saying Abu Ghaith formed a community with other Arab detainees and even married two women while incarcerated, fathering multiple children along the way.

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