Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

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Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith sitting with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, from an al Qaeda propaganda tape
Born 1965
Nationality Kuwait
Citizenship Kuwait
Known for Allegedly tied to terrorism

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (سليمان بوغيث) (born 14 December 1965) is a Kuwaiti Islamist regarded as one of Al-Qaeda's official spokesmen.[1] He is married to one of Osama bin Laden's daughters.[2]

Activities during the 1991 Gulf War

Abu Ghaith first gained attention during the 1990–1991 Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait. His sermons denouncing the occupation and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gained him some degree of popularity amongst the Kuwaiti people. Following the defeat of Iraq, he turned his attention towards the Kuwaiti government and royal family, denouncing the 1962 constitution and demanding the institution of Sharia law. The Kuwaiti government subsequently removed him from the mosque and banned him from giving sermons, and he became a high school teacher of religion.

Arrival in Afghanistan in June 2000

In June 2000, he left Kuwait for Afghanistan, where he met Osama bin Laden and joined his Al-Qaeda organization. His affinity for public speaking and comparative youth put him at the head of Al-Qaeda's attempt to widen its appeal from ultra-conservative and mostly elderly clerics to the general population and especially the youth of majority-Muslim countries; in this capacity, he quickly became the organization's spokesman.

Alleged to be a founder of al Wafa

According to documents in the unclassified dossier from Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil's Combatant Status Review Tribunal Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was also a founder of Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia, a charity that the USA asserts provided a plausible front for al Qaeda's fund-raising efforts.[3] One of the allegations against Al Zamil, who was also accused of being a founder of al Wafa, was that he helped Abu Ghaith's family leave Afghanistan around the time of the attacks of 9-11.

Appearance in an al Qaeda video news release after 9-11

He rose to worldwide attention following the September 11, 2001, attacks. On October 10, 2001, he appeared on two widely circulated videos (first broadcast on al Jazeera television) to defend the attacks and threaten reprisals for the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, saying, "Americans should know, the storm of the planes will not stop... There are thousands of the Islamic nation's youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live."[4] These statements caused the Kuwaiti government to strip him of his citizenship.[5]

Alleged connection to the Faylaka Island attackers

According to The Long War Journal American officials assert that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith attended al Qaeda's airport training camp with Anas al Kandari and Faiz al Kandari.[1] Anas al Kandari was a young Kuwaiti who fired upon a squad of marines, killing one, in the Faylaka Island attack in 2002. Faiz al Kandari is another Kuwaiti, who was held in extrajudicial detention in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2008. In 2008 charges were prepared against him to be referred to a Guantanamo military commission. According to The Long War Journal in his book The Martyr's Oath, Stewart Bell asserted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith recruited Anas al Kandari and the other shooter to launch the Faylaka Island attacks.

Presence in Iran 2002-2013

His whereabouts, as he moved around to escape capture by the United States in the following months, are unclear. According to the Long War Journal, by 2002, Sulaiman was living in Iran.[1]

In July 2003, a Kuwaiti minister announced that the Iranian government was holding Abu Ghaith and that Kuwait had refused an offer from Iran to extradite him to Kuwait.[6]

In March 2013, it was reported that Abu Ghaith had spent most of the last ten years in Iran, under some sort of restriction.[7]

The Long War Journal described his detention as "a loose form of house arrest".[1]

Presence in Turkey 2013

In late January 2013, Abu Ghaith entered Turkey from Iran, staying in a hotel in Ankara. For a brief period, he was detained at the request of the United States, but was released since he had committed no crime in Turkey. At the time, Turkish authorities held him as “a guest” since he does not have a passport.[8] Rather than extradite him to the United States, the Turkish authorities decided to deport him to his home country, Kuwait.[2]

Arrest and extradition to the United States

On a stopover in Amman, Jordan, Abu Ghaith was arrested by Jordanian officials and turned over to US authorities on 7 March 2013.[9] He was subsequently extradited to the United States, and housed in a federal prison in New York.[2]

Abu Ghaith is expected to face terrorism charges in U.S. federal court in New York City.[10] The charges could result in life imprisonment if Abu Ghaith is found guilty.[2]

Abu Ghaith pleaded not guilty in a New York court on March 8, 2013, to conspiring to kill Americans.[11]

On April 8, 2013, Abu Ghaith's attorneys are considering a request for change of venue, since New York City received the greatest loss from the attacks on September 11, 2001.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Thomas Joscelyn (28 September 2010). "Osama bin Laden's spokesman freed by Iran". Long War Journal. Retrieved 16 March 2011. "Iran has allowed an al Qaeda terrorist who served as Osama bin Laden's spokesman to return to Afghanistan. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti preacher who gained worldwide infamy after the September 11 attacks, had lived in Iran since early 2002, and was reportedly held under a loose form of house arrest beginning in 2003."  mirror
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mark Mazzetti and William K. Rashbaum (March 7, 2013). "Bin Laden Relative with Qaeda Past to have New York Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  3. documents (.pdf) from Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, 18 August 2004
  4. "Al-Qaeda threatens fresh terror attacks". BBC News. October 10, 2001.  mirror
  5. "Kuwait disowns Bin Laden aide". BBC News. 14 October 2001.  mirror
  6. "Al-Qaeda spokesman 'in Iran'". BBC News. July 17, 2003.  mirror
  7. "Iran was holding bin Laden son-in-law Abu Ghaith, US officials say". NBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  8. Deniz Zeyrek: "ABD ile Ghaiht gerilimi", Radikal, 7 February 2013; translated and posted on Al-Monitor by Sibel Utku Bila on 8th, 2013 under the title ″Turkey-US Tension Develops Over Al-Qaeda Member".
  9. "Who is Sulaiman Abu Ghaith? all you need to know". March 8, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  10. Jakes, Lara (March 7, 2013). "Officials: Bin Laden spokesman and son-in-law caught in Jordan by US". 
  11. "In court, bin Laden relative denies plot charge". Reuters. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  12. "Bin Laden son-in-law lawyers may seek to move trial out of NYC". reuters. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 

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