Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Suleiman Abu Ghaith to face New York court over terror charges

Suleiman Abu Ghaith, thought to have been involved in planning the 9/11 attacks, will answer terror charges in the USA

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The Independent US

US agencies have captured Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and former spokesman in Jordan, officials said today.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith will appear at a US federal court in New York today in a preliminary hearing over terror charges.

Republican congressman Peter King, former chair of the House Homeland Security Committee said the CIA and FBI caught the propagandist within the last week, and gave the Democrat administration credit for the catch.

He said: "Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al-Qa'ida.

"I give the (Obama) administration credit for this. It's steady and it's unrelenting and it's very successful."

A Jordanian security official confirmed that Abu Ghaith was handed over last week to US law enforcement officials under both nations' extradition treaty.

And Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that Abu Ghaith was caught while passing through Jordan, on his way to Kuwait, shortly after leaving Turkey.

The newspaper said that Abu Ghaith was taken into custody more than a month ago at a luxury hotel in Ankara, the Turkish capital. But Turkish officials decided he had not committed any crime in Turkey and released him, the newspaper reported.

Abu Ghaith became an international name after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when he appeared on pan-Arab satellite television urging Muslims everywhere to fight the United States and warning of more attacks to come.

A teacher and mosque preacher in Kuwait, he was stripped of his Kuwaiti citizenship after 9/11.

Mr King said Abu Ghaith was involved in the planning in those attacks, and Tom Lynch, a research fellow at Washington's National Defence University, described Abu Ghaith as one of a small handful of senior al-Qa'ida leaders "capable of getting the old band back together and postured for a round of real serious international terror."

"His capture and extradition not only allows the US to hold, and perhaps try, a reputed al-Qa'ida core survivor, further tarnishing the AQ (al-Qa'ida) core brand, but it also points to the dangers for those few remaining al Qaida core refugees," Lynch said.

Abu Ghaith's trial will make for one of the relatively few prosecutions of senior al-Qa'ida leaders on US soil. Charging foreign terror suspects in American federal courts was a top pledge by President Barack Obama shortly after he took office in 2009 - aimed, in part, at closing the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Since September 11, 67 foreign terror suspects have been convicted in US federal courts, according to watchdog group Human Rights First, which obtained the data from the Justice Department through a Freedom of Information request.

By comparison, of the thousands of detainees who were swept up shortly after the terror attacks and held at Guantanamo Bay, only seven were convicted by military tribunals held at the US Navy base in Cuba, the watchdog group said. The vast majority have been sent back overseas, either for rehabilitation or continued detention and prosecution.