WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- U.S. authorities have captured Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law and spokesman of former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, two officials who have been briefed on the matter told USA TODAY on Thursday.
Both officials declined to be identified because they are not authorized to comment publicly. One described Ghaith as a "heavy-duty'' operative; the other said Ghaith has been in custody for some time and is scheduled to make a first court appearance within the next few days.
Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y., who told the Associated Press that the capture also was confirmed to him by U.S. law enforcement officials, Thursday called it a "very significant victory" in the ongoing fight against al-Qaeda. He credited the CIA and FBI with catching Ghaith in Jordan within the last week.
King said Ghaith took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot against the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
"Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al-Qaeda," King said. "I give the (Obama) administration credit for this: it's steady and it's unrelenting and it's very successful."
The Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported that Ghaith was passing through Jordan, on his way to Kuwait, shortly after leaving Turkey. The newspaper said that Ghaith had been taken into custody more than a month ago at a luxury hotel in Ankara, the Turkish capital, but was subsequently released.
In Ankara, Turkish officials refused to confirm Ghaith's capture in Jordan to the Associated Press. In Amman, the Jordanian capital, a security official said he had no information on the CIA arrest in Jordan.