As part of what seems to be a succession of victories against known terrorists, Abu Ghaith, once a major player in Al-Qaeda, has been captured and is now in the United States.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. He was Born Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in Kuwait on December 14, 1965
Little is known about Ghaith’s early life, but he became interested in radical Islam early on, eventually becoming an influential religious leader.
2. He was a prominent political figure during the Gulf War
In the early 90’s, Ghaith enjoyed a small amount of popularity in Kuwait, which resulted from his denouncing of Saddam Hussein and the invasion that would lead to the Gulf War. Though, shortly after Iraq was expelled from the country, he would set his sights on the Kuwaiti royal family, calling for the institution of Shariah Law. It was quickly ruled that he no longer be allowed to give sermons. Consequently, he became a presumably angry high school teacher.
3. He is married to one of Osama Bin Laden’s daughters
It’s not clear exactly when Ghaith entered the fold of the Bin Laden clan. Though, since Ghaith likely did not meet Bin Laden until he traveled to Afghanistan in early 2000, it probably occurred shortly thereafter.
4. He served as Al-Qaeda’s senior Communications Director
Abu Ghaith traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in early 2000. There, he quickly became popular among senior Al-Qaeda leaders, who saw his comparative youth and speaking style as a bridge between them and the people of primarily Islamic countries, especially the youth. As a result, he was made communications director, and part of Al-Qaeda’s upper echelon.
5. He was in two widely circulated videos with Bin Laden after 9/11
Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Ghaith appeared in Al-Qaeda propaganda videos where he denounced western countries, and called for all Islamist people to rise up and fight. It’s going to be difficult for his defense team to downplay evidence like that at his trial.
6. Kuwait stripped him of his citizenship after creating the videos
Not surprisingly, Kuwait has tried its best to distance its self from radicals like Ghaith. he was officially denounced after the 9/11 attacks, and his subsequent propaganda activities.
7. He was captured in Jordan, after being held prisoner in Iran for several years
Armed with plenty of money bribe border officials and others, sometime in the mid-2000’s, Ghaith and a cohort of family, bodyguards, and other Al-Qaeda members crossed into Iran. The speculated reasoning is that they hoped that they would find a common casue with the Iranians, and be left to operate. They were wrong, Iran arrested all of them. During the 90’s, Al-Qaeda operated unfavorably in Iran, and these prisoners were viewed as bargaining chips. Released in January, Ghraib traveled to Turkey, where he was immune to extradition because he had not committed a crime there. The Jordanians saw things differently. The details are still unclear, but it is believed that Ghaith was deported to Jordan, where, with the help of Israel’s intelligence agency, known as Mossad, he was promptly arrested and turned over to the US.
8. It’s possible that he has valuable intelligence about Iran
Due to his confinement, Abu Ghaith has been out of play for so long that US officials speculate that his value concerning terrorist activities is low. On the other hand, he has been in Iran for the last several years, and may have valuable information on that front. Right now, they are trying to determine whether he escaped, or was released.
9. He is currently being held in New York City
Regarding the arrest, Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying “To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ghaith will be tried by a civilian court in New York. The decision to not send him to Guantanamo Bay and try him via military tribunal is a controversial one. Some people argue that military courts are much better equipped to deal with cases like this.
10. He faces terrorism charges
No surprise here. Ghaith will face terrorism charges related to his participation in Al-Qaeda, and possibly other activities. In addition to his widely circulated videos, it is known that he set up the “Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia” charity, which served as a fundrasing front for Al-Qaeda. He is also suspected of being connected to the Faylaka Island Attack of October, 2002.