(CNSNews.com) - As promised, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are prosecuting a foreign terror suspect in U.S. federal courts, treating Osama bin Laden's son-in-law as a criminal.
But some congressional Republicans say Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, an al Qaeda spokesman, should be shipped to Guantanamo Bay and held as an enemy combatant.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is among those who say Abu Ghaith should not be afforded the same rights as Americans: "This guy didn't rob a liquor store," Graham said on Thursday. "Why in the world are we treating him as if he's a common criminal? And why in the world is he not at Guantanamo Bay?"
Abu Ghaith, recently captured in Jordan, is accused of conspiracy to kill Americans. He is scheduled to enter a plea Friday morning in federal court in Manhattan.
The Justice Department announced Ghaith's arrest on Thursday:
“No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice,” Attorney General Holder said. “To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Justice Department says Abu Ghaith held a "key" position in al Qaeda: From at least May 2001 up to around 2002, he served alongside Osama Bin Laden, appearing with Bin Laden and his then-deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization and in support of its mission, and warning that attacks similar to those of September 11, 2001 would continue.
The Justice Department noted that the charges contained in the indictment "are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."
"The Obama administration’s lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe," Graham and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a joint written statement. “We are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, and America’s detention policy must reflect that reality."
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly alluded to those security concerns: “While New York City must remain vigilant to continued terrorist threats against it, Abu Ghaith's apprehension and prosecution promises to close another chapter in al Qaeda's notoriously violent history of killing Americans,” Kelly said.
Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to close the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it still hasn't happened.