NEW YORK - Osama Bin Laden claimed responsibility for masterminding 9/11 on the night of the attacks, his son-in-law said Wednesday as he unexpectedly testified at his federal trial in New York on terror charges.
Suleiman Abu Ghaith, who married bin Laden's daughter Fatima, recounted a dramatic meeting with the jubilant Al-Qaeda chief in an Afghanistan cave complex on the night of September 11, 2001.
"Did you learn what happened? We are the ones who did it," Bin Laden declared, according to Abu Ghaith.
The 48-year-old from Kuwait told the court he warned Bin Laden that he would feel the full force of America's wrath following the attacks on New York and Washington.
Bin Laden replied simply by telling him: "You're being too pessimistic." Within months, the US-led invasion had ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, and Bin Laden was forced onto the run.
A 10-year manhunt ended when the Al-Qaeda leader was shot dead by US Navy SEALs during a daring raid on his hideout in Pakistan in 2011.
Abu Ghaith had had not been expected to testify during his trial where he is charged with conspiracy to kill Americans and conspiracy to support terrorists.
He faces life imprisonment if convicted by a jury at the trial, which is expected to conclude within days.
Speaking in Arabic, translated into English by an interpreter, Abu Ghaith also denied trying to recruit people for Al-Qaeda, as prosecutors have alleged.
"There is no one recruiting, but Osama Bin Laden. My intention was not recruiting anyone," he said.
And, asked by his lawyer if he ever wanted to kill Americans, he responded "No." "My intention was to deliver a message I believed in," he said, denouncing the oppression of Muslims.