Bin Laden son-in-law's conviction upheld, US says 'justice done'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction on terrorism charges of Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti-born cleric who was a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and spokesman for the al Qaeda leader.

Abu Ghaith, 51, who is serving a life sentence, had claimed that the evidence did not support his conviction for conspiring to murder Americans, and that the indictment failed to detail how he had provided material support of terrorism.

But the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan found "overwhelming" proof that Abu Ghaith knew of al Qaeda's goal of killing Americans and intended to participate, even if he did not know details of any specific planned act of terror.

It also said speeches where Abu Ghaith told Muslims it was their duty to fight for al Qaeda, perhaps in attacks against "new" American targets, "provided material support to Al Qaeda by spreading its message to the world and encouraging others to join its terrorist cause."

The unsigned decision by a three-judge panel also rejected Abu Ghaith's challenges to how jurors had been instructed.

RELATED: 2011 Osama bin Laden death

2011 Osama bin Laden death
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2011 Osama bin Laden death
U.S. President Barack Obama stands after addressing the nation on TV from the East Room of the White House to make a televised statement May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. Bin Laden has been killed near Islamabad, Pakistan almost a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and his body is in possession of the United States. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)
In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama later announced that the United States had killed Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
A newspaper vendor displays papers heralding the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
US Marines of Regiment Combat Team 1 (RCT 1) watch TV as President Barack Obama announces the death of Osama Bin Laden, at Camp Dwyer in Helman Province, on May 2, 2011. US President Barack Obama said on May 1, 2011 that justice had been done after the September 11, 2001 attacks with the death of Osama bin Laden, but warned that Al-Qaeda will still try to attack the US. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo via AFP/Getty Images)
People celebrate in Times Square after the death of accused 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was announced by U.S. President Barack Obama May 2, 2011 in New York City. Bin Laden was killed in an operation by U.S. Navy Seals in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Newspapers left by visitors grace the fence overlooking the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Zoe Dolan, a lawyer representing Abu Ghaith, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Justice done," the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said on Twitter.

Abu Ghaith had been appealing his March 2014 conviction by a Manhattan federal jury for conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to provide material support for terrorists, and providing such support.

Prosecutors had portrayed him as a charismatic mouthpiece for al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, who recorded inflammatory videos to attract new members.

At his September 2014 sentencing hearing, Abu Ghaith had appeared unrepentant, telling U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that "at the same moment where you are shackling my hands and intend to bury me alive, you are at the same time unleashing the hands of hundreds of Muslim youths."

Abu Ghaith is serving his sentence at the "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado.

It houses many other inmates implicated in terrorism-related offenses, including al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui, 1993 World Trade Center bombing defendant Ramzi Yousef, 2013 Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.

U.S. forces in Pakistan killed bin Laden in May 2011.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

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