Omar Abdel-Rahman

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Known as the "blind sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman was associated with radical Islamist groups in the United States, and is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[1]

He holds a degree from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and has issued many fatwas in support of militant causes. Abdel-Rahman, while in Egypt, was associated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group). By the 1980s he led the Islamic Group, but remained respected by EIJ, which at the time was led by future al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In the mid-80s, he was charged with supporting the assassination of Anwar Sadat. While acquitted, he was exiled, and went to Afghanistan and became affiliated with Abdullah Azzam, considered one of the founders of the ideology that created al-Qaeda. The other founder was also Egyptian, Sayyid Qutb, editor of the Muslim Brotherhood journal, who was hanged in 1966 for subversive activities against Egypt.

Arriving in the United States in 1990, he obtained a permanent residency permit as a cleric, which was later revoked. While he contested international extradition, he sent recorded speeches and sermons to his followers in Egypt. He was under surveillance since his arrival.[2]

References

  1. Fried, Joseph P. (January 18, 1996), "Sheik Sentenced to Life in Prison for Bombing Plot", New York Times
  2. Richard Bernstein (February 8, 1995), "F.B.I. Has Kept 2 in Bomb Trial Under Surveillance Since 1989", New York Times