Skipping GITMO: Bin Laden's Son-in-Law to Appear in New York Court Today

Katie Pavlich

3/8/2013 8:08:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Yesterday it was announced the United States had captured Al Qaeda leader and the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. The problem? Ghaith isn't being tried, held or questioned at GITMO, he's in New York City prepping for his court appearance today.

A top Al Qaeda spokesman, who is the son-in-law of Usama bin Laden, has been captured overseas and charged in the United States with conspiracy to kill Americans, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday, sparking Republican criticism that such terrorists don't belong in the civilian judicial system.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith will appear in a federal New York courtroom Friday, according to the Justice Department statement and indictment outlining the accusations against him.

The Obama administration couldn't give Rand Paul a yes or no answer about whether President Obama has the authority to assassinate Americans on U.S. soil for months, but is treating this guy as if he is a U.S. citizen. We've already seen what a disaster civilian trials are when it comes to trying terrorists. Two years ago the man who bombed the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and killed 224 people, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, was convicted on only one of 285 charges.

The first former Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted on Wednesday of all but one of more than 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The case has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of trying detainees in federal court whenever feasible, and the result seems certain to fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists.

The defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He was acquitted of four counts of conspiracy, including conspiring to kill Americans and to use weapons of mass destruction.

Not surprisingly, the Holder Justice Department was "pleased" with this result, so it's no wonder they're willing to do it again.

Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, "We respect the jury's verdict and are pleased that Ahmed Ghailani now faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a potential life sentence for his role in the embassy bombings."

What could possibly go wrong?

Editor's note: A previous version of this post listed Sulaiman Abu Ghaith as Osama bin Laden's son when in fact he is Osama bin Laden's son-in-law.