Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

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Sulaiman Abu Ghaith
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, from an al Qaeda propaganda tape.jpg
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith sitting with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, from an al Qaeda propaganda tape
Born (1965-12-14) 14 December 1965 (age 53)
Kuwait City, Kuwait[1]
Arrested28 February 2013[2]
Amman, Jordan
Detained atADX Florence
Alternate nameArabic: سليمان بوغيث
Charge(s)conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists
Penaltylife in prison

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (Arabic: سليمان بوغيث‎) (born 14 December 1965) is a stateless Arab regarded as one of al-Qaeda's spokesmen.[3] He is married to one of Osama bin Laden's daughters.[4]

Activities during the 1991 Gulf War[edit]

Abu Ghaith first gained attention during the 1990–1991 Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait. His sermons denouncing the occupation and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gained him some degree of popularity amongst the Kuwaiti people. The Kuwaiti government subsequently removed him from the mosque and banned him from giving sermons, and he became a high school teacher of religion.

Arrival in Afghanistan in June 2000[edit]

In June 2000, he left Kuwait for Afghanistan, where he met Osama bin Laden and joined his al-Qaeda organization. His affinity for public speaking and comparative youth put him at the head of al-Qaeda's attempt to widen its appeal from ultra-conservative and mostly elderly clerics to the general population and especially the youth of majority-Muslim countries; in this capacity, he quickly became the organization's spokesman.

Al Wafa[edit]

According to documents in the unclassified dossier from Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil's Combatant Status Review Tribunal Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was also a founder of Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia, a charity that the USA asserts provided a plausible front for al Qaeda's fund-raising efforts.[5] One of the allegations against Al Zamil, who was also accused of being a founder of al Wafa, was that he helped Abu Ghaith's family leave Afghanistan around the time of the attacks of 9–11.

Al Qaeda video after 9-11[edit]

He rose to worldwide attention following the 11 September 2001, attacks. On October 10, 2001, he appeared on two widely circulated videos (first broadcast on al Jazeera television) to defend the attacks and threaten reprisals for the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, saying, "Americans should know, the storm of the planes will not stop... There are thousands of the Islamic nation's youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live."[6] These statements caused the Kuwaiti government to strip him of his citizenship.[7]

In 2002, while living in Iran, he posted a statement asserting that al Qaeda has "the right to kill four million Americans, including one million children, displace double that figure, and injure and cripple hundreds and thousands."[8]

Alleged connection to the Faylaka Island attackers[edit]

According to The Long War Journal American officials assert that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith attended al Qaeda's airport training camp with Anas al Kandari and Faiz al Kandari.[3] Anas al Kandari was a young Kuwaiti who fired upon a squad of marines, killing one, in the Faylaka Island attack in 2002. Faiz al Kandari is another Kuwaiti, who was held in extrajudicial detention in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2008. In 2008, charges were prepared against him to be referred to a Guantanamo military commission. According to The Long War Journal in his book The Martyr's Oath, Stewart Bell asserted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith recruited Anas al Kandari and the other shooter to launch the Faylaka Island attacks.

Presence in Iran 2002–2013[edit]

His whereabouts, as he moved around to escape capture by the United States in the following months, are unclear. According to the Long War Journal, by 2002, Sulaiman was living in Iran.[3]

In July 2003, a Kuwaiti minister announced that the Iranian government was holding Abu Ghaith and that Kuwait had refused an offer from Iran to extradite him to Kuwait.[9]

In September 2010, the Long War Journal falsely reported that Abu Ghaith had been freed by Iran and had left the country for Afghanistan.[3]

In March 2013, it was reported that Abu Ghaith had spent most of the last ten years in Iran, under house arrest.[10]

Presence in Turkey 2013[edit]

In late January 2013, Abu Ghaith entered Turkey from Iran, staying in a hotel in Ankara. For a brief period, he was detained at the request of the United States, but was released since he had committed no crime in Turkey. At the time, Turkish authorities held him as "a guest" since he does not have a passport.[11] Rather than extradite him to the United States, the Turkish authorities decided to deport him to his home country, Kuwait.[4]

Arrest, extradition to the United States, and trial[edit]

On a stopover in Amman, Jordan, Abu Ghaith was arrested by Jordanian officials and turned over to US authorities on 7 March 2013.[12] He was subsequently extradited to the United States, and housed in a federal prison in New York.[4]

Abu Ghaith was indicted on charges of conspiring to kill Americans and tried in the Federal District Court in Manhattan (U.S. v. Abu Ghayth, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 98-cr-01023).[4][13][14] He pleaded not guilty on 8 March 2013.[15]

On 8 April 2013, Abu Ghaith's attorneys were considering a request for change of venue, since New York City received the greatest loss from the attacks on 11 September 2001.[16] Abu Ghaith's lawyers sought the right to call upon Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a witness.[17][18] On 18 March 2014, this request was denied by a New York federal judge.[19]

On 26 March 2014, Abu Ghaith was convicted of "conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists"[20] and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.[21]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Osama bin Laden's son-in-law pleads not guilty in New York court". The Guardian. 8 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas Joscelyn (28 September 2010). "Osama bin Laden's spokesman freed by Iran". Long War Journal. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2011. Iran has allowed an al Qaeda terrorist who served as Osama bin Laden's spokesman to return to Afghanistan. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti preacher who gained worldwide infamy after the September 11 attacks, had lived in Iran since early 2002, and was reportedly held under a loose form of house arrest beginning in 2003.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Mark Mazzetti and William K. Rashbaum (7 March 2013). "Bin Laden Relative with Qaeda Past to have New York Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  5. ^ documents (.pdf) from Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, 18 August 2004
  6. ^ "Al-Qaeda threatens fresh terror attacks". BBC News. 10 October 2001. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Kuwait disowns Bin Laden aide". BBC News. 14 October 2001. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ JOSCELYN, THOMAS (28 September 2010). "Osama bin Laden's spokesman freed by Iran". Long War Journal. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Al-Qaeda spokesman 'in Iran'". BBC News. 17 July 2003. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Iran was holding bin Laden son-in-law Abu Ghaith, US officials say". NBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  11. ^ Deniz Zeyrek: "ABD ile Ghaiht gerilimi", Radikal, 7 February 2013; translated and posted on Al-Monitor by Sibel Utku Bila on 8th, 2013 under the title ″Turkey-US Tension Develops Over Al-Qaeda Member".
  12. ^ "Who is Sulaiman Abu Ghaith? all you need to know". 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  13. ^ Jakes, Lara (7 March 2013). "Officials: Bin Laden spokesman and son-in-law caught in Jordan by US".
  14. ^ "Jurors to Weigh US Charges Against Bin Laden Relative". Reuters. 24 March 2014.
  15. ^ "In court, bin Laden relative denies plot charge". Reuters. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Bin Laden son-in-law lawyers may seek to move trial out of NYC". reuters. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  17. ^ Christopher M. Matthews (28 February 2014). "Delay Denied in Trial of bin Laden Son-in-Law: Case Will Start Monday After Motion on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Testimony Is Rejected". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. His defense lawyers in February sent a questionnaire to Mr. Mohammed at the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Mohammed responded in a 14-page statement that is now in the possession of his lawyer, but which Mr. Abu Ghaith's lawyers haven't seen.
  18. ^ Rich Shapiro (28 February 2014). "Osama bin Laden's son-in-law tries and fails to get terrorism charges dismissed: Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's lawyers made a last-minute request to dismiss the charges of conspiring to kill Americans, arguing that the prosecutors had the wrong man". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's lawyers had made an eleventh-hour request to dismiss the charges of conspiring to kill Americans – arguing that prosecutors have the wrong man.
  19. ^ "Judge bars 9/11 mastermind's testimony in NYC". USA Today. 18 March 2014.
  20. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (26 March 2014). "Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden's Son-in-Law, Is Convicted in Terror Trial". New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  21. ^ Hays, Tom (23 September 2014). "Ex-al-Qaida spokesman gets life prison term in NY". Seattle PI. Retrieved 23 September 2014.

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