Osama Bin Laden Son-in-Law in U.S. Custody: Is Civilian Trial Appropriate?


The son-in-law of late Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is in custody of U.S. officials in New York City. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was arrested in Turkey when Turkish officials called for his deportation after entering the country with a fake passport. The CIA has since kept Abu Ghaith in custody, and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at a District Court in Manhattan Friday. His trial will address his alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The CIA worked alongside Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization to locate Abu Ghaith. After being deported from Turkey, Abu Ghaith was then brought to Jordan. Now the prominent Al-Qaeda figure is in US territory, and faces charges of conspiracy to kill Americans. Not surprisingly Abu Ghaith has since plead not guilty to the allegations. Bin Laden’s son-in-law was a spokesman for Al-Qaeda, the notorious Islamic extremist organization. He first appeared in videos alongside bin Laden praising the September 11 attacks, and threatened that more attacks on U.S. citizens will follow.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke Thursday on arresting one of the most high profile Al-Qaeda members.

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice. To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Abu Ghaith is facing a civilian trial after many expected him to be tried and interrogated at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The fact that his trial will be held in New York City, in such close proximity to Ground Zero of the World Trade Center raises some eyebrows as well. Department of Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle spoke on behalf of the government decision.

"Our policy is that we will prosecute whenever feasible in the national security interests of the United States. In this case, the president's national security team examined this matter and unanimously agreed that prosecution … in federal court will best protect the national security interests of the United States,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke out about the decision in a press conference. He disagreed with the civilian trial and urged congress to classify Abu Ghaith as an enemy combatant so he can be transported to Guantanamo.


President Obama has made a significant effort to shut down the Guantanamo base, and has advocated for the use of torture to be eliminated. Regardless of Abu Ghaith’s location, U.S. officials are closer to bringing another terrorizing Al-Qaeda member to justice.