New York: An American who trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 before losing his nerve testified on Thursday how he encountered Osama bin Laden and bin Laden's son-in-law at a safe house — and that bin Laden hinted that a suicide attack on US soil was in the works.
"Just know you have brothers willing to carry their souls in their hands,'' bin Laden told the witness, Sahim Alwan, and other recruits, Alwan said on the witness stand in federal court in New York City.
Asked what he thought that meant, Alwan responded, "To die.''
His testimony came at the trial of the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who's accused of plotting to kill Americans by being a motivational speaker at al-Qaida training camps before the September 11 attacks and as a spokesman for the terror group afterward when it sought to recruit more militants to its cause.
Alwan, 41, was among a half-dozen men who became known as the Lackawanna Six after their arrests on charges of providing material support to terrorists by attending bin Laden's al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan in 2001.
He pleaded guilty in 2003 and served about seven years behind bars.
Testifying under subpoena, Alwan told jurors that he became an aspiring jihadist after worshipping at a mosque in Lackawanna, the city in western New York state where he grew up.
In April of 2001, he traveled to Pakistan and crossed the border to Afghanistan, where he was directed to the safe house to wait for an assignment to a training camp.