Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday’s conviction of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law on terrorism charges in a federal court in Manhattan proves that New York City could have dealt with the prosecution of the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and his co-conspirators.
“This verdict is a major milestone in the government’s unrelenting efforts to pursue justice against those involved with the September 11 attacks,” Mr. Holder said in a statement released Wednesday. “I want to especially note that this verdict has proven that proceedings such as these can safely occur in the city I am proud to call home, as in other locations across our great nation.”
Mr. Holder had wanted to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators on trial in New York, but lawmakers blocked his plan, citing security concerns. The suspected terrorists are being tried in a military tribunal at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The attorney general cited the conviction of Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, son-in-law of the late al Qaeda leader, to vindicate his positions that the federal judicial system is up to the task to try sensitive cases and that terrorists should be tried in the U.S.
“It was appropriate that this defendant, who publicly rejoiced over the attacks on the World Trade Center, faced trial in the shadow of where those buildings once stood,” Mr. Holder said. “It would be a good thing for the country if this case has the result of putting that political debate to rest. This outcome vindicates the government’s approach to securing convictions against not only this particular defendant, but also other senior leaders of al Qaeda.”
A federal jury took about six hours to convict Abu Ghayth of conspiring to kill Americans.
Last year, Mr. Holder said the 9/11 defendants “would be on death row as we speak” if they had been tried in the federal court system instead of at Guantanamo.