Prosecutors have accused the Kuwaiti-born Abu Ghaith, 48, of
recording videos in Afghanistan on behalf of al Qaeda immediately
following the attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, threatening further violence against
Defense lawyers argue that the government cannot prove that Abu
Ghaith had any involvement in or knowledge of plots to kill U.S.
Jury selection began on Monday and should be completed by Wednesday,
with opening statements from both sides expected to take place later
that day or soon after. The trial is expected to last around a
The bearded Abu Ghaith, who could receive life in prison if
convicted, sat quietly during the morning, wearing a beige suit and
listening to an interpreter translate the proceedings into Arabic.
Nearly 50 prospective jurors gathered in a Manhattan courtroom,
where the newly constructed One World Trade Center was visible
through one of the windows.
As in several other terrorism trials in the United States, the jury
will remain anonymous. During questioning from U.S. District Judge
Lewis Kaplan, potential jurors were asked to refrain from revealing
any identifying information, such as their names or employers.
Kaplan asked a series of questions about al Qaeda, potential
witnesses and other issues, seeking to determine whether any of them
had biases that would affect their ability to remain impartial.
The prospective jurors had already provided answers to written
questions before arriving at court on Monday, including whether they
had strong feelings about terrorism that would make it hard for them
to be fair.
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In the afternoon, one candidate, a 56-year-old lawyer, said he had
represented several detainees at the U.S. prison for terrorism
suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was concerned he would not be
able to put those experiences out of his mind when assessing the
credibility of any potential witnesses from Guantanamo.
Another potential juror, a 57-year-old man, said he had known
someone who was killed in the September 11 attacks and that he was
not sure whether he could remain impartial.
The jury pool members ranged in age from 27 to 76 and included
teachers, writers, a chef and a nurse.
Abu Ghaith faces charges of conspiring to kill Americans, providing
material support and resources to terrorists and conspiring to
provide such support.
(Editing by Amanda Kwan and Mohammad Zargham)
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