On the night of 9/11, Abu Gaith said that he was summoned to a cave to meet the al Qaida boss, who asked him, "Did you learn what happened? We are the ones who did it."

Hiding in a cave in Afghanistan on September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden did not seem to anticipate the speed or extent of the U.S. retaliation to al-Qaeda’s terror strike, according to his son-in-law, who is on trial in New York this week.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (48), a Kuwaiti preacher known for provocative anti-American rhetoric in numerous post-attack videos, said to bin Laden, “America, if it was proven that you were the one who did this, will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden simply replied, “You’re being too pessimistic.”

Abu Ghaith’s defense team raised eyebrows on Wednesday when it announced that the terror suspect would take the stand in his own defence to argue that he was merely the mouthpiece of bin Laden, who was called upon to “deliver the message” within hours of the attacks.

Three months after he was recruited by bin Laden, on the night of 9/11, Abu Gaith said that he was summoned to a cave to meet the al Qaida boss, who asked him, “Did you learn what happened? We are the ones who did it.”

The next morning he said he saw bin Laden sharing breakfast with current al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. When Abu Gaith accepted bin Laden’s invitation to join them, bin Laden then said to him, “Now, after these events … it’s a no-brainer to predict what is going to happen. What you expected may actually happen. And I want to deliver a message to the world. And Dr Ayman also wants to deliver a message. I want you to deliver that message.”

Seeking to convey to the anonymous jurors in New York the impression that he was not directly involved in planning the attacks, Abu Gaith said that he had met bin Laden “only six or seven times previously” before their Afghan cave meeting.

Testifying that the al-Qaeda commander seemed worried on the night of 9/11, the man who married his eldest daughter Fatima in 2008 or 2009, said that the video of him speaking in front of a rocky backdrop with bin Laden and others was based on “bullet points” provided by bin Laden.

However during cross examination Abu Ghaith conceded that he sent his pregnant wife, six daughters and a son to Kuwait on September 7, 2001, even as he continued on to Afghanistan after getting news that “something big was going to happen soon.”

Abu Gaith said, “I had heard something would happen but I didn’t know what.”

Yet the prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara pressed him on why he agreed to meet and then stay beside bin Laden at the time of the attacks asking, “You are telling this jury that you made a speech in which you called on people to terrorise the infidels because you didn’t have a personal car?”

Mr. Ferrara also asked, “Despite knowing that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, you met with him to be polite?”

Abu Gaith was captured in Jordan last year, and is among the highest-ranking al Qaida members to be tried on U.S. soil for the 9/11 attacks.

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