WASHINGTON -- Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the charismatic al-Qaida spokesman, fundraiser and son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, is likely to have a vast trove of knowledge about the terror network's central command but not much useful information about current threats or plots, intelligence officials and other experts say.
Abu Ghaith pleaded not guilty Friday to conspiring to kill Americans in propaganda videos that warned of further assaults against the United States as devastating as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Believed to be more of a strategic player in bin Laden's inner circle than an operational plotter, Abu Ghaith would be the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to stand trial on U.S. soil since 9/11. Intelligence officials say he may be able to shed new light on al-Qaida's inner workings -- concerning al-Qaida's murky dealings in Iran over the past decade, for example -- but probably will have few details about specific or imminent ongoing threats.
He gave U.S. officials a 22-page statement after his Feb. 28 arrest in Jordan, according to prosecutors. They would not describe the statement.
Abu Ghaith said little during the 15-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in New York.
Brennan sworn in as CIA director: John Brennan took over Friday as director of the CIA, the finishing touch on President Barack Obama's national security team for his second term. The White House said Vice President Joe Biden swore Brennan in during a private ceremony in the Roosevelt Room, the morning after he won Senate confirmation amid a contentious debate. Republicans had blocked his nomination but lifted their delay after the administration bowed to their requests for clarification about the president's power in using drones. Rather than swearing on a Bible, Brennan placed his hand on an original copy of the Constitution from 1787 that had George Washington's handwriting and annotations on it. He told Obama he requested the document from the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law, an administration official said. The Brennan vote was 63-34 and came just hours after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, used an old-style filibuster of the nomination to extract an answer from the administration on the drone question.
Delta leader opposes new policy: The head of Delta Air Lines on Friday joined the growing opposition to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives onto planes. Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole that he shares the "legitimate concerns" of the airline's flight attendants about the new policy. Allowing small knives to be carried on board after a ban of more than 11 years "will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers," Anderson said in the letter, which was obtained by Associated Press.