Terrorist Keeps Tax-Evading Lawyer for Sentencing

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law decided Thursday to face sentencing for conspiring to kill Americans with the same trial attorney who pleaded guilty earlier that morning in the same courthouse to tax charges.
     U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan repeatedly warned Sulaiman Abu Ghaith at a Thursday hearing that his lead attorney, Stanley Cohen, might present a conflict of interest that could harm him at sentencing on Sept. 8.
     Kaplan gave Ghaith a “very strong recommendation” to get a new lawyer, and even said that the “government will pay for it.”
     Ghaith declined, however, saying, via a translator, that while he understood and respected Kaplan’s repeated warnings, “I will say I do not need it.”
     The 48-year-old Kuwaiti Islamist was convicted in March of conspiring to kill Americans as the spokesman of al-Qaida after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. He faces life in prison when sentenced by Kaplan.
     Cohen, 63, pleaded guilty in April in Syracuse Federal Court of charges of impeding the Internal Revenue Service. He also pleaded guilty this morning in Manhattan Federal Court to two more misdemeanor charges of failing to file tax returns.
     According to the U.S. government’s five-count wire fraud indictment filed in Manhattan in December 2013, Cohen earned $500,000 a year between 2005 and 2010, but then failed to file a Form 1040 for each of those years.
     Cohen “knowingly and willfully” orchestrated a “scheme and artifice to defraud” the government out of taxes, according to the indictment.
     Sporting his signature gray ponytail and beard at his unusual court appearences, Cohen faces up to 18 months in prison and could lose his license, which he can regain after serving time. He faces sentencing in October.
     Cohen has contended that the case against him is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s retaliation for representing accused terrorists.
     Ghaith, who donned a white, knitted skullcap and prison scrubs at this morning’s hearing, also asked Kaplan to bump up his sentencing to an earlier date. Kaplan did not, however, rule on that request.
     During his trial in the high-rise court room blocks from One World Trade Center where the Twin Towers once stood, Ghaith wore business suits and button-up shirts.
     Jurors found that Ghaith was al-Qaida’s spokesman after the 9/11 attacks, and knew of upcoming attacks.
     He testified on his own behalf that he agreed when bin Laden told him to videotape a series of fiery messages the day after 9/11, warning American and British Muslims to stay out of high-rises and airplanes because the hail of airplane attacks would not abate.
     Ghaith married bin Laden’s oldest daughter, Fatima, in 2008.

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