9 Mar 2013

Bin Laden aide pleads not guilty in US court

10:16 am on 9 March 2013

One of Osama bin Laden's closest aides has pleaded not guilty in a US court to charges of plotting to kill Americans.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 47, is a son-in-law of the late al-Qaeda leader and authorities have said he was turned over to US officials in Jordan within the last week while on his way to Kuwait.

On Friday he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to kill US nationals, at a hearing in a federal courtroom in lower Manhattan, less than a kilometre from the site of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

Mr Abu Ghaith is to go on trial on 8 April in a hearing expected to last about three weeks, the BBC reports.

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

The head of the FBI's New York field office, George Venizelos, said Mr Abu Ghaith held a key position in al-Qaeda and used this to threaten the United States and incite its enemies.

In court filings, US prosecutors say Mr Abu Ghaith served alongside Bin Laden from May 2001 to 2002, speaking on behalf of al-Qaeda and warning that attacks similar to 9/11 would continue.

Osama bin Laden was killed in a May 2011 raid on his hideout in Pakistan by a team of US commandos.