Osama Bin Laden Son-in-Law Takes the Stand in NYC Court

Suleiman Abu Ghaith testifies in his own defense, in a surprise move.
3:00 | 03/19/14

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Transcript for Osama Bin Laden Son-in-Law Takes the Stand in NYC Court
This is a special room. Dan for New York with -- ABC news digital special report on the trial of Salina Abu gate that's such a law. Although Solomon lot he is on trial in New York City spoke for the first time today. And ABC's Eric church he was a courtroom today for the proceedings and joins us now with more parent. -- it was a rather spellbinding moment I think for spectators who have been following this case closely and anybody who's had an interest in the aftermath of 9/11 because Osama bin Laden's closest relative. Is on trial in an American courtroom on US soil. He is the highest ranking member of al-Qaeda according to federal prosecutors to face trial here in the US and and and Osama bin Laden's closest relative. To face trial here in the US and to put him on the witness stand. I think was an interesting move for the defense but -- on -- testified in Arabic through a translator telling the jury about the first time he met bin Laden after nine elevenths. In a cave in a mountainous rugged region of Afghanistan all the while ground zero was smoldering and he's telling. The jury all of this in a courtroom just blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood so he is saying the first time he met with his father in law a Sullivan -- Was after the 9/11 attacks what they say they knew about the plodding at those attacks. -- said he had no advance warning of the 9/11 attacks and and before 9/11 he had met with Osama bin Laden he said six or seven times but did it he didn't say that they -- discuss terrorism in fact he was asked point -- by his attorney. Did you ever discuss 9/11 -- or the attacks using airplanes none of that he said. It was seemingly a more casual encounter in those those previous times but after 9/11. He told the jury he was summoned to this cave in a mountainous part of Afghanistan. Where Osama bin Laden and other members of the al-Qaeda top brass names we know now. Ayman Al-Zawahri in the -- were all in Heidi and it was there. That Osama bin Laden. Told him. We did this meeting the 9/11 attacks and then came a request to Salim on obligate and he -- I want you to deliver our message to the world. And at first gates testified that he declined and he -- he -- didn't want the responsibility. But then bin Laden insisted and from their provided him bullet points he said. And he made his first video sitting right outside that cave. As the that this -- remains of of ground zero. We're still causing chaos here in New York very visual account of what he says happened in those immediate times after 9/11 attacks. What -- actually in court me what was his appearance he -- uncomfortable what was he wearing. No he he he spoke rather casually in Arabic he was wearing a suit that the court provided for him his defense attorney had asked before the trial began at the court. Provide him a suit to Wear each day and so he he wore a dark suit. Blue shirt no tie and he spoke through a translator very calmly answering questions under direct examination from his attorney. Cross examination from the prosecutors will undoubtedly get a little less friendly. But in this time -- he seemed to be talking about. How he was a reluctant spokesman for al-Qaeda initially declining bin Laden's offer of becoming its its its mouthpiece. And also saying that -- words that he uttered. In in repeated videos that he made on bin Laden's behalf. Were supplied by Osama bin Laden himself a bullet points. There was a particular phrase that he used. That the of this storm of airplanes that became a rather infamous phrase uttered in those early videos. And he says that was a phrase that bin Laden told him to say in fact in one part of the testimony I've been reading. He actually tried to portray himself as a meeting here between bin Laden and the US. It was a curious moment in a rather extraordinary moment where he talked about making. Video after video -- bin Laden's request and by this time -- he's made several and he said he made several more. Once he left -- that mountainous cave region and and and moved to Kabul. And and from there he made more videos he said. That he wanted to. -- the United States that does that Muslims need to defend themselves because they were under a brutal attack he said the amount of attack. That that did that they're defenseless people of Afghanistan were under. Required some sort of intervention and he he seemed to stated his intention in making these videos was not to simply denounced the US but to. Kind of offered olive branch -- it was a very strange bit of testimony and I'm not -- anyone in court was necessarily buying how to he responded to the charges that he was actually accused. Mercury for al-Qaeda. He said he did he -- only Osama bin Laden could recruit for al-Qaeda so he never was involved and that he also denied a number of other allegations that prosecutors have. Have have made against him including that he was somehow connected to the shoe bomb plot carried out by Richard Reid he said he didn't know anything about that. He said he never talked about the 9/11 attacks -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the a self proclaimed mastermind of those attacks who in fact the defense wanted to testify and on -- him on obligates behalf before the judge said no. And and gates really seemed overall to be trying to portray. What he said in these videos and there's no denying he said at the videos have been played in court -- But -- he seemed to be trying to say that look this is all First Amendment type stuff yes I said some. Some things but they were bin Laden's words done at his behest I had no advance knowledge I took on a -- that my father in law asked me to take on -- seems to be the direction -- his testimony is heading. Art and what is now next in this case. Well he'll be cross examined and I think that that prosecutors will simply rely on the fact that he indeed made the videos that he took bin Laden's words -- that he presented them to the wider public as proof. That he did in fact aid al-Qaeda simple as that for prosecutors and I think they're going to try and and casts of him on -- and in a far different light and they said from the outset. That as Manhattan was burning. As the Twin Towers were were words of the ruins of the -- and Twin Towers were burning that Osama bin Laden turned to one person. To carry out his hateful message and that one person was -- on -- no matter what else is said in court. He accepted the job did the job and therefore is guilty and now on trial. New York City ABC's characteristic following that case Aaron thank you that was certainly appreciate it and of course you -- -- very latest developments in real time. Downloading the ABC news -- and star in this story for real time updates. On the go for now I'm Dan Butler New York with this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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