Bin Laden relative spoke of ‘storm of planes’

Prosecutors contend Abu Ghaith, a former imam at a Kuwaiti mosque, was a top-tier member of al-Qaeda [Reuters]

Alleged al-Qaeda operative Suleiman Abu Ghaith warned of a "storm" of airplane attacks a month after Sept. 11, 2001, videos shown in his New York trial revealed on Monday.

Abu Ghaith, a 48-year-old Kuwaiti and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, is on trial in Manhattan federal court for conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to al-Qaeda.

During the session, prosecutors played two videos from October 2001.

"There are thousands of young Muslims who look forward to die for the sake of Allah," Abu Ghaith said in one video.

"The storm shall not lessen especially the storm of the airplanes," he shouted in one of the clips.

At one point, Abu Ghaith warns Muslims "not to board aircraft and we advise them not to live in high rises and tall buildings."

Prosecutors allege that Abu Ghaith was a top-tier member of al-Qaeda and knew of various plots.

‘I met bin Laden’

Also on Monday, a British terror convict told a New York trial that he met bin Laden up to 50 times and was recruited by al-Qaeda to blow up a passenger jet.

Saajid Badat was sentenced in 2005 to 13 years in jail as a co-conspirator in the notorious shoe bombing plot in December 2001, a time of worldwide concern over air travel after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

The 34-year-old has been dubbed a "supergrass," slang for informant, by the British media for agreeing to testify against a slew of former associates.

Asked how many times he met bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he says he spent three years training and fraternizing with top al-Qaeda leaders, Badat replied: "Around 20 times, maybe up to 50 times."

Fluent in English, Arabic, Urdu and Gujarati, Badat said he smuggled explosives from Afghanistan to Britain in late 2001 after being recruited by al-Qaeda to blow up jetliners with bombs hidden in shoes.

(With AFP and Reuters)
 

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