Local News

Man convicted of 1993 World Trade Center bomb plot dies in Butner prison

Posted February 18

— The man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bomb plot died early Saturday in the federal prison facility in Butner, according to NBC News.

Omar Abdel-Rahman, 78, also known as the Blind Sheikh, died at 5:40 a.m. in the Butner Medical Center from natural causes, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Rahman battled diabetes and coronary heart disease and has been in the Butner facility since Feb. 22, 2007.

The entrances of the prison were guarded by what appeared to be an armed tactical team following the announcement of Abdel-Rahman's death, although a spokesman with the prison said they were not aware of any specific threats against the building.

Rahman was confined in federal custody since 1993. He was convicted in connection with inspiring terror plots, including the World Trade Center bombing and a later plot to blow up the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, among other New York City landmarks.

The Egyptian cleric was the spiritual leader of a group that was believed to have been behind other terror attacks, such as the killing of tourists in Luxor, Egypt in 1997.

Abdel-Rahman's daughter, Asmaa, announced the death in a series of Arabic-language tweets: "We are saddened by your departure, father," she wrote.

Abdel-Rahman was a key spiritual leader for a generation of Islamic militants and became a symbol for radicals during two decades in American prisons.

Blind since infancy from diabetes, Abdel-Rahman was the leader of one of Egypt's most feared militant groups, the Gamaa Islamiya, which led a campaign of violence aimed at bringing down ex-President Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel-Rahman fled Egypt to the U.S. in 1990 and began teaching in a New Jersey mosque. A circle of his followers were convicted in the Feb. 26, 1993, truck bombing of New York's World Trade Center that killed six people — eight years before al-Qaida's suicide plane hijackers brought the towers down.

Later in 1993, Abdel-Rahman was arrested by authorities who accused him and others of conspiring to wage a string of bombings against the United Nations and other New York landmarks, including the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

But since his imprisonment, Abdel-Rahman's influence had been seen more as symbolic than that of a practical leader. His Gamaa Islamiya, which led a wave of violence in the 1990s, was crushed a decade ago, and its leaders, jailed in Egypt, declared a truce.

Abdel-Rahman's activities pre-dated Osama bin Laden's formation of al-Qaida in the late 1990s. But he was an influential figure in the generation of Islamic extremists that emerged from Egypt over the past two decades.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Jeremy Thomas Feb 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Let's not skip over the part where he fled Egypt and came to the US in 1990. Then within 3 years his followers tried to bring down the World Trade Center. Was he properly vetted? There is no way the intelligence community didn't know who he was when he was in Egypt, but they let him right in.

  • Norman Lewis Feb 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Nearly 25 years too late. After conviction for terrorist activities, he should have been taken behind the courthouse and shot immediately. He cost the taxpayers well over a million dollars to keep him alive and he worked to kill those same taxpayers.

  • Nancy Oberman Feb 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Prison guards....really WRAL???

  • Kiara Babel Feb 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Why did he live this long? They should have dropped a ax on him along time ago. The federal government executed Timothy macvay for doing the same thing, which he deserved.

  • Glenda Hightower Feb 19, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Well, let's us a couple of billion out of what it would cost to build "a wall" and house and feed every veteran and homeless person in this country. A couple of billion is 2000 million. Two thousand million dollars (think of it) could take care of our entire homeless, foodless population. Re this news on this terrorist, if Muslims believe in a hell, hope he is there right now.

  • Deborah Turner Feb 18, 2017
    user avatar

    He was of his father, the devil, and the lust of his father he did. He should have already been dead for what he had done to others.

  • Bobbie Perry Chestnut Feb 18, 2017
    user avatar

    well extra precautions wouldn't be needed if the news media didn't report every little detail of where he was at such as what prison...news media out own worst enemy at times

  • Tim Orr Feb 18, 2017
    user avatar

    WRAL is slipping. This is a happy story about a vetted immigrant. Guess you couldn't find a way to tie this into the travel ban or into illegal aliens being here. I think it's a shame that he plotted to kill us yet we had to take care of him and his medical conditions while thousands of VETERANS that gave their sanity for this country are homeless and have nothing to eat tonight.

  • Kristen Ford-Newell Feb 18, 2017
    user avatar

    Amen...At least he won't be living off the American ( those he hated and wanted to kill ) taxpayer anymore. I hope he gets his punishment now.

  • Dan Ratka Feb 18, 2017
    user avatar

    Ben, I agree Whole heartedly!