Turkey refused to extradite bin Laden’s son-in-law to US

Ghaith (left) with bin Laden and al-ZawahiriBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Turkish authorities have reportedly rejected a formal extradition request by the United States for a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, who was arrested in Ankara on Friday following a tip-off by the Central Intelligence Agency. Suleiman Abu Ghaith was born in Kuwait but had his citizenship revoked after publicly opposing the rule of the Kuwaiti monarchy and demanding the institution of shari’a law in the oil emirate. In 2000, he traveled to Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden and joined al-Qaeda. He eventually married Fatima bin Laden, one of bin Laden’s numerous daughters, who is currently living in Saudi Arabia. He gradually rose within the ranks of the organization, eventually becoming one of its public spokesmen. Soon after the US invasion of Afghanistan, in 2001, Ghaith is believed to have escaped from Afghanistan by entering Iran on foot. He was eventually captured by Iranian government forces and placed in a detention camp along with other suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members. It is not known how he managed to leave Iran and enter Turkey (though some say he was released the by Iranian authorities), or how the CIA knew of his presence there. However, according to Turkey’s leading daily Milliyet, the Agency contacted members of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (known as MİT) and told them that Ghaith had entered the country on a forged passport. He was arrested soon afterwards at a hotel in Ankara’s affluent Çankaya district. The hotel where Ghaith was captured is reportedly located near the official residence of the Turkish President and a stone’s throw from numerous foreign embassies —including the embassy of the US, which was attacked by a suicide bomber on February 1. Turkish officials have said that Ghaith’s presence in the Turkish capital was not connected with the attack on the US embassy, which is believed to have been carried out by a secular Marxist group. Interestingly, notes Milliyet, a Turkish judge refused to detain Ghaith because “he had not committed any criminal act while in Turkey” other than entering the country on a forged passport. Soon after his court hearing, Ghaith was turned over to the Turkish military, which deported him back to Iran. In doing so, the Turkish authorities rejected an official US request for Ghaith’s extradition, claiming that they were obligated to return bin Laden’s son-in-law to Iran due to a host of “technical reasons”. Turkey has repeatedly refused to collaborate with US counterterrorism agencies in recent years, citing concerns about Washington’s alleged favorable treatment of Kurdish interests in Northern Iraq, and its alleged support of Israel in its ongoing dispute with Turkey.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Turkey refused to extradite bin Laden’s son-in-law to US

  1. Pete says:

    In addition to Turkish sensitivities concerning the Kurdish insurgency and also Israel Turkey would be sensitive not to be seen as a NATO/US Deputy Sheriff.

    The Deputy Sheriff concern has a regional aspect as Turkey is already in the delicate position of having to serve as the “frontline” NATO country most visibly involved in putting pressure on the Syrian regime.

    The Turkish Government also doesn’t want to appear to be a US/NATO puppet on a domestic level as rising Islamist political and religious forces in Turkey might gain even more popularity if the Turkish Government delivered an Islamist posterboy (son-in-law of UBL) to the “infidel” Americans.

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