WASHINGTON—Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, a/k/a “Suleiman Abu Gayth,” a former associate of Osama bin Laden, has been arrested and charged in an indictment unsealed today
in New York City with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office George Venizelos, and the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (NYPD) Raymond W. Kelly. Abu Ghayth is expected to be presented and arraigned tomorrow, March 8, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
“No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America’s enemies to justice,” said Attorney General Holder. “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.”
“The arrest of Abu Ghayth is an important milestone in our ongoing counter-terrorism efforts. I applaud the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors responsible for bringing about this significant case and arrest,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.
“It has been 13 years since Abu Ghayth allegedly worked alongside Osama bin Laden in his campaign of terror and 13 years since he allegedly took to the public airwaves, exhorting others to embrace al Qaeda’s cause and warning of more terrorist attacks like the mass murder of 9/11,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “The memory of those attacks is indelibly etched on the American psyche, and today’s action is the latest example of our commitment to capturing and punishing enemies of the United States, no matter how long it takes.”
“Sulaiman Abu Ghayth held a key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos. “He used his position to persuade others to swear loyalty to al Qaeda’s murderous cause. He used his position to threaten the United States and incite its enemies. His apprehension is another important step in the campaign to limit the reach of al Qaeda and enhance our national and international security.”
“While New York City must remain vigilant to continued terrorist threats against it, Abu Ghayth’s apprehension and prosecution promises to close another chapter in al Qaeda’s notoriously violent history of killing Americans,” said NYPD Commissioner Kelly. “This case also represents another success in the ongoing partnership between federal agents and NYPD detectives through the JTTF.”
As alleged in the superseding indictment that has been filed against Abu Ghayth in federal court:
Since around 1989, al Qaeda has been an international terrorist organization dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence. Osama bin Laden served as the leader, or “emir,” of al Qaeda until his death on or about May 2, 2011. Members of al Qaeda typically have pledged an oath of allegiance, called bayat, to bin Laden and to al Qaeda.
The core purpose of al Qaeda, as stated by bin Laden and other leaders, is to support violent attacks against property and nationals, both military and civilian, of the United States and other countries. Between 1989 and 2001, al Qaeda established training camps, guest houses, and business operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries for the purpose of training and supporting its agenda of violence and murder. Members and associates of al Qaeda have executed a number of terrorist attacks, all in furtherance of the organization’s stated conspiracy to kill Americans, including the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, which killed approximately 2,976 people.
From at least May 2001 up to around 2002, Abu Ghayth served alongside Osama bin Laden, appearing with bin Laden and his then-deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization and in support of its mission, and warning that attacks similar to those of September 11, 2001, would continue.
In particular, around May 2001, Abu Ghayth urged individuals at a guest house in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to swear bayat to bin Laden. On the evening of September 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the United States, bin Laden summoned Abu Gayth and asked for his assistance, and he agreed to provide it. On the morning of September 12, 2001, Abu Ghayth, appeared with bin Laden and al Zawahiri and spoke on behalf of al Qaeda, warning the United States and its allies that “[a] great army is gathering against you” and called upon “the nation of Islam” to do battle against “the Jews, the Christians, and the Americans.” Also, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Abu Ghayth delivered a speech in which he addressed the then-U.S. Secretary of State and warned that “the storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm” and advised Muslims, children, and opponents of the United States “not to board any aircraft and not to live in high rises.”
Abu Gayth arranged to be, and was, successfully smuggled from Afghanistan into Iran in 2002.