NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, the most senior al-Qaida member to be tried in a U.S. civilian court, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, after proclaiming his punishment would result in “unleashing the hands of hundreds of Muslim youths.”

Suliman Abu Ghayth was found guilty in March of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, providing material support to al-Qaida and helping recruit new members as the group’s spokesman after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Tuesday in court, Abu Ghayth said he’ll go to prison but that won’t deter others.

“At the same moment when you are shackling my hands and intending to bury me alive, you are at the same time unleashing the hands of hundreds of Muslim youths, and you are removing the dust of their minds, and they will join in the rally of the free man,” Abu Ghayth said in Arabic through an interpreter in a packed Manhattan federal courtroom.

“Soon and very soon, the whole world will see, the whole world will see the end of these theater plays that are also known as trials,” Abu Ghayth said. “Judge, you and your government can decree whatever you wish to decree in this world, in this life, but nothing will befall us, except what Allah has ordained.”

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said the evidence at trial showed Abu Ghayth willingly joined al-Qaida in mid-2001, evacuated his family from Afghanistan before the attacks in the U.S. and agreed to work as a spokesman for the group after bin Laden summoned him to a mountain hideout on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001.

“From the summer of 2001 until the time you sat down a few minutes ago in this courtroom, you have evidenced no remorse whatsoever,” Kaplan said.

“As recently as 15 minutes ago you continue to threaten,” the judge said. “You, sir, are, in my assessment, are committed to doing everything you can to assist in carrying out al-Qaida’s agenda of killing Americans — guilty or innocent, combatant or non-combatant – without regard to the carnage that’s caused.”

While prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sought the life prison term, Abu Ghayth’s lawyer Stanley Cohen Tuesday argued his client should serve no more than 15 years.

Abu Ghayth hadn’t committed any crimes of violence but instead had been found guilty of speaking at bin Laden’s behest, Cohen said.

The Islamic cleric, who was born in Kuwait, had been imprisoned in Iran for at least a decade before being transferred to the U.S. in 2013 for trial, Cohen said.

The U.S. government alleged that Abu Ghayth had advance knowledge of terrorism plots, including a foiled scheme to detonate shoe bombs on airplanes. During the trial, the jury watched Abu Ghayth on videotapes that were broadcast around the world after 9/11. In the videos, he delivered fiery sermons on behalf of al- Qaida, including one on Sept. 12, 2001, in which he appears alongside bin Laden, his then-deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and other leaders.

Abu Ghayth told the judge he had chosen to live a life according to his beliefs.

“The free man is one who dies standing on his feet, not the one who lives sitting on his knees. And I have made a choice to live as a free man,” he said. “Islam is the religion that does not die when its followers die or get killed and does not come to a stop when they get captured or imprisoned.”

He said he will not “seek mercy, and ask for mercy, from anyone except God.”

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