CRIME

Al-Qaeda Mourns ‘Blind Sheik’ Convicted For 1993 World Trade Attack

The terror group took to social media to eulogize the man whose followers conducted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing

CRIME
REUTERS
Feb 18, 2017 at 5:51 PM ET

Members of al-Qaeda are mourning the death of Omar Abdel-Rahman, commonly known as “the Blind Sheik,” who died on Saturday at the age of 78. Abdel-Rahman, a convicted terrorist whose followers in 1993 committed the World Trade Center bombing, died after suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease in a North Carolina prison while serving a life sentence.

Al Qaeda’s main media wing, the Al-Sahab Foundation, took to its social media channels to mourn Abdel-Rahman. In response to his death, the terror group circulated a letter Abdel-Rahman supposedly wrote in prison that detailed the poor conditions of his stay. In it, Abdel-Rahman complains about prison guards strip searching him, cameras constantly surveilling him, and the horrors of solitary confinement.

Vocativ has not verified the authenticity of the letter, and we couldn’t find any mention of how he wrote this letter if he was blind. Further, it is unclear if Abdel-Rahman wrote this letter while incarcerated at FMC Rochester in Minnesota or FMC Butner in North Carolina.

Vocativ viewed hundreds of posts on al-Qaeda’s Telegram channel, as well as some Twitter accounts, eulogizing Abdel-Rahman and vowing revenge against the United States.

An old and blind Sheik, suffering from several diseases, died in isolation in American prisons, in the country… that’s asking other countries to act justly,” one user wrote. One user tweeted, “The Sheik didn’t give up on anything and was steadfast until he died. Oh God, kill America and its allies.” Another tweeted,America should know that when it kills the Mujahideen, it’s reviving them in our hearts. Their blood will turn into a fire that will burn them.”

Abdel-Rahman was blind since he was a baby due to his diabetes. However, that didn’t stop him from dedicating his life to the jihadist cause. Until 1990, he led the Egyptian militant group Gamaa Islamiya, but afterward came to the United States. According to the Associated Press, he then started teaching at a mosque in New Jersey, and some of his followers were convicted in the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Later that year, Abdel-Rahman was arrested for plotting to bomb New York City locations and landmarks, including the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations. He was later convicted of conspiracy in the World Trade Center attack, along with a host of other charges.

Further, Abdel-Rahman was an influential figure for many other infamous jihadists, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda.