U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Manhattan Tuesday to thank the prosecutors who helped convict Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was convicted last week of conspiring to kill Americans after the September 11 attacks. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was the right decision to try Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in federal court.
"Before a jury of New Yorkers and in full view of many of those who lost loved ones in the attack. The verdict has proved beyond any doubt that proceedings such as these can safely occur in the city," Holder said.
Abu Ghaith was convicted last week of conspiring to kill Americans after the September 11 attacks. Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office successfully argued to jurors that Abu Ghaith used video and audio messages to recruit Muslims to try to blow up planes.
"Throughout, the attorney general and the department have been supportive of all of our efforts, but especially in the prosecution of international terrorists who have tried to kill Americans, harm American interests and have not only targeted this country, but put a bullseye on this very city," said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.
There have been lots of local and national debates over whether high-profile terror trials should be held in federal courts, especially just blocks away from the World Trade Center. Some have suggested that they be held in military hearings at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The attorney general said that debate can be put to rest.
"While our military courts remain an appropriate venue in certain circumstances, decisions on how best to seek convictions against terrorism defendants must always be based on prosecutorial considerations and never on political ones," Holder said.
The attorney general said that since 2009, the Department of Justice has been successful in convicting more than 165 people on terrorism charges.
One case that will be held in a military hearing and not in federal court is the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called mastermind of the September 11 attacks.