Extremist Muslim cleric, Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as “the blind sheikh” has died in a U.S. prison, as per his son Ammar.
The sheikh was convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing and of planning more attacks as part of a “war of urban terrorism” in the United States. He was 78.
Despite decades of incarceration, Egyptian-born Abdel-Rahman remained a spiritual leader for radical Muslims.
Abdel-Rahman was the face of radical Islam in the 1980s and 1990s. He preached for the death of people and governments he disagreed with, and installing an Islamic government in Egypt.
His followers were linked to fundamentalist killings and bomb attacks around the world.
Omar Abdel-Rahman’s bio:
Abdel-Rahman was born on May 3, 1938 in a village along the Nile. He lost his eyesight due to childhood diabetes and grew up studying the Koran’s Braille version.
He grew up to be a member of the fundamentalist Islamic Group and was imprisoned for issuing a fatwa leading to the 1986 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
He was eventually acquitted in 1990 and went into self-imposed exile.
Moving to the US:
Despite the fact that Abdel-Rahman was on the State Department’s list of people with ties to terror groups, he managed to obtain a tourist visa from the U.S. Embassy in Sudan.
In 1991 Abdel-Rahman was given a green card and permanent U.S. resident status. According to The New York Times, the CIA approved his visa application for Abdel-Rahman for his support of the anti-Soviet mujaheddin in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Abdel-Rahman lived in Brooklyn and Jersey City. He continued preaching his radical message and building a strong following among fundamentalist Muslims.
Despite his exile, he was a force in the Middle East, his followers listened to cassette tapes and radio broadcasts of his sermons denouncing the Egyptian government and Israel.
Terror attacks and assassinations:
Abdel-Rahman and his followers were linked to the murder militant Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990, and the 1992 killing of an anti-fundamentalist Egyptian writer and attacks on foreign tourists in Egypt.
In 1992, U.S. authorities revoked his green card on the grounds that he had lied about a bad cheque charge in Egypt and about having two wives when he entered the country.
Abdel-Rahman was facing deportation when the 1993 attack World Trade Center happened, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000, and made Americans realize they were not immune to international terrorism.
Abdel-Rahman was arrested along with several followers four months later. They were accused of plotting a day of terror for the United States, consisting of assassinations and synchronized bombings of the U.N. headquarters, a major federal government facility in Manhattan and tunnels and a bridge linking New York City and New Jersey.
Charges didn’t directly include the 1993 World Trade Centre attack but the defendants were convicted of conspiring with those who did carry out the bombing.
Abdel-Rahman’s convictions also included plotting to kill former Egyptian President Mubarak during a visit to the United States, a Jewish New York state legislator and a Jewish New York State Supreme Court justice.