The alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the US says Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who is on trial in New York, had no role in planning military operations for al-Qaeda.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement filed in Manhattan federal court late on Sunday that Abu Ghaith served as an al-Qaeda spokesman because he was "an eloquent, spellbinding speaker".
But Mohammed said Abu Ghaith, 48, "was not a military man and had nothing to do with military operations".
|Mohammed said al-Qaeda's media officials may not necessary know about upcoming military operations [AP]
Abu Ghaith is charged with conspiring to kill Americans. He is the highest-level al-Qaeda figure to be tried in the US since the September 11, 2011 attacks.
Prosecutors say he was part of al-Qaeda's deadly plot in his role as spokesman in fiery videos and as a motivational speaker at the group's training camps in Afghanistan.
Abu Ghaith's lawyers have said the Kuwait-born imam made inflammatory remarks but did not conspire to carry out terrorism.
Defence lawyers are seeking to use testimony from Mohammed, who is being held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They would need US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan's approval to introduce the information.
"Mr Mohammed is unavailable to physically appear at trial, and his testimony is necessary to prevent a failure of justice in this matter," the lawyers, led by Stanley Cohen, wrote to the judge.
The defence has suggested Mohammed could help rebut the government's claim that Abu Ghaith must have known in advance of al-Qaeda's so-called shoe bomb airplane plots, including Richard Reid's attempt to carry one out in December 2001.
The statement from Mohammed filed on Sunday consisted of answers he gave to questions posed by Abu Ghaith's lawyers.
In the statement, Mohammed said he never spoke with Abu Ghaith about the shoe bomb operation. He added: "Those tasked with giving statements to the media do not necessarily know all the details of an operation and are sometimes even unaware of the very existence of the operation."
Prosecutors rested their case on Friday in the trial of Abu Ghaith. The defence case is due to start on Monday.