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Bin Laden son-in-law takes stand in New York court in own defense

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Suleiman Abu Ghaith took the stand in his own defense Wednesday in New York federal court against charges that he conspired to kill Americans.

Abu Ghaith, a former al Qaeda spokesman, is one of the highest profile people to face terrorism-related charges in a civilian court in the United States.

The U.S. government contends that Abu Ghaith, 48, became a leader of al Qaeda militants after the September 11, 2001, attacks as a spokesman and recruiter of fighters, and that he knew of planned attacks against the United States.

Abu Ghaith is also accused of providing material support and resources to terrorists and conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty, and faces life in prison if convicted. His lawyers have argued there is no evidence that he knew of future attacks.

Abu Ghaith's decision to testify came a day after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that jurors would not hear testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)