Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law — one Sulaiman Abu Ghaith — was found guilty today of conspiring to kill Americans and of providing material support to terrorists in federal district court in New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, the conviction “bolsters the arguments of those who contend that civilian courts, rather than military commission, are suitably equipped to handle terrorism prosecutions.”
I’m not buying that for a minute. Indeed, that is just lame. The argument isn’t over the relative ease of conviction of terrorists before a military commission or a federal court. Those waging war against the United States don’t belong in civilian courts. See, for example, Andrew McCarthy’s March 8, 2013 NRO/Corner post on Abu Ghaith: “While you weren’t looking, Obama kills military commissions.”
The Journal article on the conviction takes note of the dream team that represented Abu Ghaith at trial:
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s handpicked defense team included an unlikely cast of characters speaking up on behalf of al Qaeda. His lead lawyer, Mr. Cohen, who is Jewish, sported a raggedy pony tail and showed up to court on some days with a Palestinian kaffiyeh draped around his shoulders. Mr. Abu Ghaith’s second defense attorney, Zoe Dolan, is an openly transgender woman, who showed up one morning in knee-high lace-up boots.
Rounding out the team was Geoffrey Stewart, whose mother Lynne Stewart was convicted of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists for passing messages from her client, the blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s unorthodox legal team clashed often with U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who threatened to take disciplinary actions against them at least twice during the trial.
In the AFP photo below, defense attorneys Stanley Cohen and Geoffrey S. Stewart talk with reporters outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan after the conviction.