Terror plotter Omar Abdel Rahman dies in US prison

The Egyptian-born cleric linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, died on Saturday of natural causes in a US prison, the justice department said.

Omar Abdel Rahman, considered the mastermind behind bomb plots in New York, died in a US prison.  EPA/US DISTRICT COURT
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Washington // Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian-born cleric linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, died on Saturday of natural causes in a US prison, the justice department said. He was 78 years old.

Abdel Rahman, known as the blind sheikh, was serving a life sentence on several terrorism-related charges at a Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. His death came after many years of suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease, the Bureau of Prisons said.

He was seen as an extremist spiritual leader even after his conviction in 1995 for conspiring to bomb New York landmarks, including the United Nations, and assassinate the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel Rahman, who sported a long grey beard and sunglasses, led the militant Al Gamaa Al Islamiya group in Egypt before emigrating to the United States.

Born in 1938, he was seen as having inspired the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center, which killed six people and injured around 1,000 more.

His son Mohamed Omar was informed of the death and said the family had contacted the American and Egyptian authorities to repatriate the body.

Abdel Rahman had been jailed in North Carolina since 2007. He was hospitalised in late 2006 in the state of Missouri after he began to spit blood and was given a blood transfusion.

In 2012, Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi called for Abdel Rahman’s transfer to Egypt for “humanitarian reasons,” asking for a “prisoner exchange” with the United States.

*Agence France-Presse