March 25 2014,
With jury deliberations now underway, the trial of alleged al Qaeda “mouthpiece” and “insider” Suleiman Abu Ghayth is proving to be a textbook example of why civilian trials work better than military commissions. For the past three weeks, as Abu Ghayth has stood trial in Manhattan federal court, the judge and attorneys have relied on time-tested criminal laws and rules of evidence.
His case hasn’t been mired by any of the changing rules, pretrial squabbles, and post-verdict reversals that have stalled justice at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All told, the Abu Ghayth case could end up being only 13 months from capture to potential conviction. Meanwhile, proceedings against admitted 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants could take 13 years from KSM’s 2003 capture, as they await a military commission that will not commence before 2015.
Abu Ghyath, a 48-year-old Kuwaiti imam, is not being tried as a war criminal but a common criminal, albeit one charged with participating in al Qaeda’s global conspiracy to kill Americans. Starting the day after 9/11, Abu Ghayth emerged as an al Qaeda spokesman appearing in half a dozen videos justifying the massive killings and threatening future attacks.