BREAKING NEWS – The master instigator behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh” has died in prison at the age of 78. Federal prison spokesperson said that the Islamist cleric behind the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, has died in federal prison, but no details of his death have been released.
Abdel-Rahman, was an Egyptian radical Islamic cleric, who maintained a global following even during his two decades long imprisonment. He was convicted of instigating and helping to plan the initial bombing of the WTC in the early 1990’s. His arrest and conviction created a wave of anti-American protests across the Middle East. Sources said he died Saturday morning at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina, where he was serving a life sentence.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed his death this morning saying that he had died at approximately 5:40 a.m. Saturday of natural causes after a long health battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease. He is survived by a son, Ammar, who told Reuters that his family had received a phone call from a U.S. representative saying his father had died.
The cleric was convicted in 1995 of plotting terror attacks throughout New York City, targeting the United Nations and other New York City landmarks. He was also linked to the 1993 World Trade Center attack in which six people died and more than 1,000 others were injured. Abdel-Rahman was known as as “The Blind Sheikh,” because he had lost his eyesight when he was 10 months old. By age eleven, he had memorized the Braille version of the Qur’an and was sent to an Islamic boarding school.
Later he attended Cairo University’s School of Theology and earned a doctorate in from Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Prior to his involvement in terrorism, he became one of the country’s most prominent and outspoken Muslim clerics to denounce Egypt’s secularism. Then in the mid 1980’s, he traveled to Afghanistan. Once there, he built a strong rapport with former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden said in reference to Abdel-Rahman that he was the inspiration and justification for the September 11 attacks which destroyed the World Trade Center.
Adbel-Rahman continued to be the spiritual leader of Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya even after his conviction. He sued the government for the right to record sermons and send to his followers. The Islamic terrorist organization AGAI is widely believed to have been behind other terror attacks such as the 1997 killing of tourists in Luxor, Egypt.