A son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who served as al Qaeda's spokesman has been arrested and detained in Jordan in an operation led by Jordanian authorities and the FBI, U.S. government sources said on Thursday.
The sources said Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a militant who had appeared in
videos representing al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, had initially been picked up in Turkey.
The Turkish government then deported him to Jordan, said the sources, where local authorities and the FBI took custody of him.
Initial public confirmation of Abu Ghaith's capture came from Representative Peter King, a senior Republican member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
"I commend our CIA and FBI, our allies in Jordan, and President (Barack) Obama for their capture of al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. I trust he received a vigorous interrogation, and will face swift and certain justice," King said in a statement.
"Propaganda statements in which Abu Ghaith and his late father-in-law, Osama bin Laden, praised the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are alone enough to merit the most serious punishment."
US sources indicated that, while a CIA role in the capture of Abu Ghaith could not be ruled out, the FBI took the lead role in the operation under the auspices of an interagency body known as the High-value Detainee Interrogation Group.
The group was created by Obama's administration after the president ordered the permanent shut down of a CIA program in which militant suspects were detained and held in a network of secret prisons, during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The suspects were sometimes subjected to controversial and physically coercive "enhanced interrogation techniques," and also sometimes transferred without trial to third countries under a procedure known as "extraordinary rendition."
Precisely what the FBI and interrogation group now intend to do with Abu Ghaith was not immediately known. Sources said one possibility is that he could be brought to the United States for trial in an American court.
The Justice Department declined to comment.