Osama bin Laden's son-in-law was sentenced today to life in prison for acting as al-Qaeda's spokesman after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was sentenced by US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who said he saw "no remorse whatsoever" from the 48-year-old imam. "You continue to threaten," the judge said. "You sir, in my assessment, still want to do everything you can to carry out al-Qaeda's agenda of killing Americans." Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaeda figure to face trial on US soil since 9/11, was convicted in March on conspiracy charges that he answered Osama 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 commercial jets on Sept. 11.
Defense attorney Stanley Cohen had asked the judge to impose a 15-year sentence, asking for leniency because his client "faces the harshest of penalties for talk—and only talk," comparing Abu Ghaith to a radio shock-jock. Taking the witness stand in his own defense, Abu Ghaith calmly denied he was an al-Qaeda recruiter and claimed his role was a religious one aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors. He insisted he agreed to meet with bin Laden in a cave on the night of Sept. 11, 2001, out of respect for bin Laden's standing as a sheik. Prosecutors disagreed with this assessment, writing, "Abu Ghaith was a terrorist who sat alongside bin Laden on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, celebrating the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent, men, women, and children the day before." "The storm of airplanes will not stop," the Kuwaiti imam warned in an October 2001 video that was played for the jury. Meanwhile, some members of Congress didn't like that he was tried in the civilian court system, maintaining Abu Ghaith should have been under the military's jurisdiction, the New York Times reports.