One day after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., launched his talking filibuster probing the scope of President Obama’s authority to order drone strikes against American citizens, the Justice Department indicted an al-Qaeda propagandist in a New York federal court.
Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, a son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, is accused of conspiracy to kill Americans. He allegedly appeared in propaganda videos with his father-in-law and Ayman Al Zawahiri. He is being indicted in a New York federal court and faces life in prison, according to the DOJ. He entered a “not guilty” plea today.
“Sulaiman Abu Ghayth held a key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said in a statement yesterday. “He used his position to persuade others to swear loyalty to al Qaeda’s murderous cause. He used his position to threaten the United States and incite its enemies. His apprehension is another important step in the campaign to limit the reach of al Qaeda and enhance our national and international security.”
Republican lawmakers are angry that Obama is putting the man on trial. “We are disturbed by the Administration’s decision to bring Sulaiman Abu Ghayth—a foreign member of al Qaeda charged with conspiring to kill Americans – to New York for trial in federal court,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., in a joint statement.
“Military detention for enemy combatants has been the rule, not the exception. By processing terrorists like Sulaiman Abu Ghayth through civilian courts, the [Obama] Administration risks missing important opportunities to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and save lives,” they continued.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,R-Ky., concurred. “[T]errorists working to attack the United States are enemy combatants, and if captured should be placed in military custody where they can be interrogated,” he said in a stateemnt today. “The decision of the President to import Sulaiman Abu Ghaith into the United States solely for civilian prosecution makes little sense, and reveals, yet again, a stubborn refusal to avoid holding additional terrorists at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay despite the circumstances. At Guantanamo, he could be held as a detainee and fulsomely and continuously interrogated without having to overcome the objections of his civilian lawyers.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who opposed trying Kaleid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, approved the decision in this case.
“Unlike with KSM, (Police Commissioner Ray) Kelly and others had been consulted ahead of time about this and they gave the green light to do it,” he said, per NBC News. As you know, Kelly, Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg and I opposed the trial of (Mohammed) in New York and we successfully made sure that didn’t happen . . . On issues like this, I defer to Commissioner Kelly, and I think the mayor does as well. And he thinks it’s OK to do it here, and I’ll go by that.”