bin laden

Bin Laden son-in-law pleads not guilty, lawmakers blast move to use civilian courts

by  |  published on March 9, 2013

A top Al Qaeda spokesman, who is the son-in-law of Usama bin Laden, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to charges of conspiracy to kill Americans, touching off what could be lengthy legal proceedings as Republicans complained that such terror suspects don’t belong in the civilian judicial system.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was hit with the charges in an indictment unsealed by the Justice Department late Thursday. The terror suspect’s capture and prosecution in federal court — all of which was first revealed to the public Thursday — caught lawmakers by surprise.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, said Thursday the Obama administration’s decision to bring Abu Ghaith to court in New York City is wrong, “sneaky” and against the will of Congress. While foes of using Guantanamo to hold suspects say detainees there are afforded fewer legal rights, supporters say they can yield more information while held in the military facility.

Graham says Abu Ghaith is clearly an enemy combatant and should have been sent straight to the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility for extended questioning.

“The Obama administration’s lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe,” Graham and Ayotte said in a joint written statement. “We are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, and America’s detention policy must reflect that reality.”

On Friday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also questioned whether the U.S. was losing valuable intelligence by going through the civilian court system.

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