Three years after the Obama administration’s plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters in civilian court started a political firestorm, a lower-key approach to such prosecutions is beginning to bear fruit, reports the Wall Street Journal. So-called “capture-interrogate-prosecute” tactics scored their highest-profile success last Wednesday when Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, husband of Osama bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, was convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to al Qaeda.
Abu Ghaith, an al-Qaeda spokesman and one of the most senior operatives convicted in civilian court, was handed over to FBI agents in Jordan last year and put on a U.S.-bound plane. The approach reflected a decision by the Justice Department to avoid public debate before bringing alleged terrorists into U.S. courts, and to leave much of the groundwork to the local federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The shift comes after the more public approach failed with the attempted prosecution of Mohammed in 2009.