New York (AFP) — A U.S. court sentenced Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and former Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith to life in prison on Tuesday.
The 48-year-old Kuwaiti, who has defended the September 11, 2001 attacks, was found guilty on March 26 of plotting to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists.
Before the sentence was handed down in a U.S. federal courtroom, Abu Ghaith spoke in Arabic through a translator to say the only judgement he would accept was that of God.
“Today when you are shackling my hands, and intend to bury me alive, you are unleashing the hands of thousands of Muslims and they will join the rally of free men,” he said.
Judge Lewis Kaplan said Abu Ghaith failed to show remorse for the September 11 attacks and told the courtroom he remained a menace.
“You continue to threaten,” Kaplan said. “What you have done warrants the maximum sentence.”
Abu Ghaith is the highest ranking Al-Qaeda leader ever held in a prison on U.S. soil.
In a September 12, 2001 video he is seen sitting alongside bin Laden and current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri justifying the September 11 attacks and promising more bloodshed.
In a video from October 2001 he repeated his threat, vowing “the storm of the planes would continue” in a video message.
His lawyers asked for a lighter 15-year sentence, arguing that he served 11 years in detention in Iran after leaving Afghanistan in 2002.
Senate Intelligence Committee chief Dianne Feinstein praised the ruling and said the case proved that “those who seek to harm Americans cannot hide and will be held to account.”
“This sentencing reminds the world that the United States will continue to capture and punish our enemies,” she added.
The World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed during the September 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda militants who flew hijacked airliners into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
Almost 3,000 people were killed in the attacks, the deadliest on U.S. soil in the country’s history.
Dozens of people jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Center to escape the flames.
The alleged mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, is currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay alongside four suspected co-conspirators.
They could face the death penalty if convicted.
AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski
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