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March 26, 2014

Bin Laden son-in-law convicted at NYC terror trial

NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, the voice of fiery al-Qaida propaganda videotapes after the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans for his role as the terror group's spokesman.

The verdict came after about five hours of deliberation in the case against Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks. The Kuwaiti imam had testified during a three-week trial that he answered bin Laden's request in the hours after the attacks to speak on the widely circulated videos used to recruit new followers willing to go on suicide missions like the 19 who hijacked four planes on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The storm of airplanes will not stop," Abu Ghaith was heard warning in an October 2001 video that was played for the jury.

Also shown repeatedly to the jury during the trial were frames of a video made Sept. 12, 2001, that showed Abu Ghaith seated next to bin Laden and two other top al-Qaida leaders as they tried to justify the attacks.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 8. The charges carry a potential penalty of life in prison.

On Monday, during closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan underscored the importance of Abu Ghaith's post-9/11 status.

"Going to that man was the very first thing Osama bin Laden did on Sept. 11 after the terror attacks," he said. "The defendant committed himself to al-Qaida's conspiracy to kill Americans, and he worked to drive other people to that conspiracy."

He added: "During the most important period of time in al-Qaida's savage history, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was Osama bin Laden's principal messenger. ... He used his fiery oratory to incite al-Qaida's growing army of terror in this war with America."

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