‘Blind shaikh’ convicted in WTC bombing dies in prison

NORTH CAROLINA: Omar Abdel Rahman, the cleric known as “the blind shaikh” who was convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and of planning a broader “war of urban terrorism” in the United States, died on Saturday in a North Carolina prison, authorities said.
Abdel Rahman, 78, died of natural causes at 9:40 am (1440 GMT) at a medical centre at a federal prison compound in Butner, North Carolina, according to Greg Norton, a spokesman.
The cleric, who had diabetes and coronary artery disease, had been incarcerated at the complex for nearly 10 years, Norton said.
Earlier, the cleric’s son Ammar said his family had received a phone call in Egypt from a US representative saying his father had died.
The Egyptian-born Abdel Rahman remained a spiritual leader for hardliners even after more than 20 years in prison.
With his long gray beard, sunglasses and red and white clerical cap, the charismatic Abdel Rahman was the face of fundamentalism in the 1980s and 1990s. His following was tied to fundamentalist killings and bomb attacks around the world.
“Abdel Rahman was at the vortex of some of the bloodiest and most consequential terrorist incidents of the 1990s — incidents that would establish the patterns of global terrorism that continue to bedevil us today,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University in Washington. — Reuters