AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law has been captured in Jordan, flown around the world and is now being held in a Manhattan jail. He's expected to appear for arraignment tomorrow in federal court. He'll be charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals.
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston joins us now from New York with the details. And, Dina, tell us what you know about bin Laden's son-in-law and his role in al-Qaida.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, his name is Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, and he's 48 years old. He was a spokesman for al-Qaida, and he appeared in a lot of the terrorist organization's propaganda videos. He was in one video that came out just a day after the 9/11 attacks, in which bin Laden took credit for the attacks, and Abu Ghaith praised him on camera. He was sitting right next to his father-in-law in that video.
So he's someone U.S. intelligence officials have been tracking for a really long time. They unsealed his indictment and, basically, he's being charged with conspiracy to kill Americans.
CORNISH: And I gather after 9/11, he went into hiding.
TEMPLE-RASTON: He did. Officials had a pretty good idea where he was. He was part of a contingent of top al-Qaida operatives who've been hiding out in Iran for the past decade. And the list of people there reads like a who's who of remaining al-Qaida founding members. It had been an open secret that they were there, and this is mentioned in the indictment they unsealed this afternoon, that he arranged to smuggle himself into Iran from Afghanistan in 2002.
CORNISH: Now, what do you know about how he was captured?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, we understand from sources familiar with the case that bin Laden's son-in-law had left Iran last month to travel to Turkey, and he entered Turkey under a false passport. Authorities there found him in a luxury hotel in Ankara, and they arrested him and they held him briefly. And then they decided they couldn't hold him because he hadn't committed a crime on Turkish soil. So they decided to deport him back to Kuwait where he is originally from. And then Abu Ghaith was on his way to Kuwait via Jordan when U.S. officials picked him up.
CORNISH: And then they bring him to New York?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Apparently, there was a big internal discussion within the U.S. government on the best place to try him. And it appears they decided the best place was a federal court in the southern district of New York.
CORNISH: So a federal court in New York instead of, say, Guantanamo.
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, on the surface, you'd think he'd be a perfect candidate for the military commissions. These courts are supposed to be for terrorists and suspects who are foreign and have al-Qaida links, so he appears to qualify. But, in fact, Congress has required that these sorts of people be taken to Guantanamo, not federal court. But from the charges that were unsealed today, those are kinds of charges that aren't internationally recognized as war crimes, but are very common in federal courts in the United States.
CORNISH: And so they are, in this case, looking to try him in federal court in New York.
TEMPLE-RASTON: Exactly. In the southern district of New York, which has done a lot of these terrorism trials, he's scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. tomorrow. The FBI's been talking to him since he arrived in New York, and it's unclear whether he's cooperating. If he is, it's less likely that there would be a court appearance tomorrow because this is when all the horse trading happens, when charges are tweaked in exchange for cooperation. So that's the next thing to look for, whether he's cooperating. You know, he was in Iran with a bunch of people that the U.S. is very eager to capture and talk to, so he could be very helpful in that way.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston speaking to us in New York. Dina, thank you.
TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.
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