The routine trial and conviction in a Manhattan courtroom of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law sends two messages to the nation 12 years after the 9/11 attacks.
To those — namely congressional Republicans — who have demanded that suspected terrorists be tried in military instead of civilian courts, the fair prosecution and guilty verdict last week in U.S. District Court demonstrated that justice in such cases can be dispensed by a jury of everyday Americans at a trial open to the public.
To President Obama and his Democratic administration, which continues to maintain an offshore prison for terror suspects and combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the case proves that security and order can be maintained even when the defendant is a high-profile operative for al-Qaeda’s late kingpin.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the husband of bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, is a Kuwaiti-born cleric who taped fiery speeches for al-Qaeda extolling the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and pledged that more assaults on the United States would follow. He was found guilty of conspiring to kill Americans and giving material support to terrorists. He faces a possible life sentence.
The best way for Congress and the White House to mark this achievement is by similarly moving the Guantanamo detainees to trial and closing that prison as President Obama promised.