Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at NY trial
NEW YORK (AP) — The trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al-Qaida spokesman after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks resumes Monday with the airing of testimony from a London resident who says he participated in a 2001 shoe-bomb plot.
Saajid Badat will testify live via videotape from London at the New York trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith about his experiences with al-Qaida after the attacks that demolished the World Trade Center. Some of the lawyers in the case flew to London on Friday to pose questions.
Prosecutors are using the testimony to try to show that Abu Ghaith knew of al-Qaida’s plans when he promised in videotapes sent across the world in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks that “the storm of airplanes will not abate” against Americans and advised Muslims in America and Great Britain to stay off aircraft.
Abu Ghaith, born in Kuwait, faces a possible life prison sentence if he is convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and of providing material support to al-Qaida. His trial began in federal court in Manhattan last week, a year after he was captured in Turkey and brought to the United States for trial. About five years ago, he married bin Laden’s eldest daughter, Fatima.
Badat was expected to testify Monday after defense lawyers cross-examine another witness, Sahim Alwan. The Lackawanna, N.Y., man testified Friday that he met bin Laden three times and heard Abu Ghaith speak to al-Qaida recruits while undergoing training in Afghanistan several months before the 2001 attacks.
Alwan pleaded guilty in 2003 to providing material support to terrorists by attending bin Laden’s al-Farooq camp and served about seven years in prison.
Badat was convicted in London in a 2001 plot to down an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.
In videotaped testimony shown to a jury in Brooklyn at a 2012 terrorism trial, Badat said he refused a request to testify in person in the U.S. because he remains under indictment in Boston on charges he conspired with failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid, and he has been told he’d be arrested if he set foot in the United States.
Abu Ghaith, 48, a onetime imam at a Kuwaiti mosque, has pleaded not guilty in the case. Abu Ghaith is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks.