US officials have arrested and filed terrorism charges against Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and spokesman for terrorist group al-Qaeda, the Justice Department said Thursday.
He is to appear in court in New York on Friday and faces charges of conspiracy to kill US citizens. He could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
Ghaith, who is married to one of bin Laden's daughters, had been part of al-Qaeda since at least May 2001, the Justice Department said. He urged others to swear allegiance to the terrorist group and acted as the group's spokesman, warning of attacks similar to the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, the indictment against him said.
On September 12, 2001, he warned in a video in which he was seated alongside bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda at the time, and Ayman al-Zawahiri that a "great army is gathering against you." He called for Muslims to battle "the Jews, the Christians and the Americans." He later warned the US that "the storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm."
Bin Laden was killed in a raide by US force in Pakistan in 2011 and Zawahiri is the current leader of al-Qaeda and remains on the FBI's most-wanted list.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet first reported that abu Ghaith was in the hands of US authorities. He was captured in Turkey, but Ankara initially refused to hand him over to the US. He later was taken into US custody in Jordan.