Photos IDs Fair Game for Trial of Bin Laden In-Law
(CN) - Osama bin Laden's son-in-law was properly connected to a witness who allegedly spotted him in an al-Qaida guesthouse in Afghanistan, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Sulieman Abu Ghaith swore allegiance to terrorist group in May 2011, according to the indictment. The court documents, which spell his last name with a "y," do not explicitly state whether he helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Prosecutors nevertheless believe that bin Laden summoned Abu Ghaith to help al-Qaida hours after the attacks.
Abu Ghaith allegedly agreed and appeared the next morning with bin Laden and his then-deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Speaking on behalf of al-Qaida, Abu Ghaith allegedly warned the United States and its allies that "[a] great army is gathering against you." He went on to call upon "the nation of Islam" to do battle against "the Jews, the Christians and the Americans," according to the indictment.
Nearly two years after Bin Laden was killed in a raid on his compound, Abu Ghaith was reportedly arrested after leaving Turkey and sent to the Southern District of New York to face conspiracy charges.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected his bid to suppress an unidentified cooperating witness's two out-of-court identifications from FBI line-ups that occurred months apart from each other.
Abu Ghaith's lawyer Stanley Cohen told the court that the first, from May 3, 2012, did not follow the "blind administration" protocol obligating the agent not to know which photograph depicts the suspect.
This argument failed because "the government's interview notes demonstrate that it sought to have the CW identify each of the eight individuals depicted, any or all of whom the CW might have encountered," Kaplan wrote.
The judge likewise rejected Cohen's arguments that the second identification, from Feb. 23, 2013, was too suggestive because Abu Ghaith's photograph stood out from the others in that set.
"This is not so," Kaplan wrote. He added later: "Of the individuals depicted in the photo array, at least four appear to be of Middle Eastern descent and all had similar coloring. Five were bald or balding and all of them had facial hair."
Cohen said in an email that he has not yet read Kaplan's order.
Trial is set to begin on Feb. 3.