Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 20, 2014

Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

(Continued)

On cross examination, though, Abu Ghaith admitted that he sent his pregnant wife, six daughters and a son to Kuwait while he went to Afghanistan on Sept. 7, 2001, after hearing inside and outside al-Qaida training camps that something big was going to happen soon.

"I had heard something would happen but I didn't know what," he said in response to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara's questions.

Lacing some questions with sarcasm, Ferrara took particular aim at Abu Ghaith's claims that he was merely embellishing bin Laden's "bullet points" on videotapes as he condemned America. And Abu Ghaith's testimony also gave the prosecutor an opportunity to again show video clips of Abu Ghaith angrily denouncing America and of the second plane hitting a World Trade Center tower on Sept. 11.

Ferrera mocked Abu Ghaith's statement that he stayed and helped bin Laden for two weeks after Sept. 11 because the conditions in Afghanistan were tense and he had no way to travel.

"You are telling this jury that you made a speech in which you called on people to terrorize the infidels because you didn't have a personal car?" he said, drawing from one juror a smile and a nod to a fellow juror.

"I don't understand the question," Abu Ghaith responded.

Testifying through an Arabic interpreter, the 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born defendant looked relaxed when he first took the stand, wearing a blue shirt, open at the collar, beneath a charcoal-colored jacket.

He testified he first met bin Laden when the al-Qaida leader, who was living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, summoned him in June 2001 after hearing he was a preacher from Kuwait. He took bin Laden's daughter as an additional wife years after 9/11.

Abu Ghaith said bin Laden explained that the al-Qaida training camps involved so much weapons training and a rough, hard life that he wanted him to give the recruits merciful hearts. He also testified he knew bin Laden was suspected in terrorist attacks but still "wanted to get to know that person."

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