Omar Abdel-Rahman, an icon for the Egyptian Salafi-jihadi movement, has died in a US prison while serving a life-sentence on conspiracy charges connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The Egyptian preacher has died in a US prison while serving a sentence on charges that claimed his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
His death came after a long battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease, the Bureau of Prisons said.
Reuters news agency reported Abdel-Rahman’s son confirming the death, while his daughter Asmaa Abdel-Rahman also confirmed the news on Twitter saying in an Arabic language tweet that “Allah has taken the soul of Sheikh Omar”.
The spiritual leader of Omar Abdel-Rahman died aged-78, part way through a life sentence. For decades he had been a figurehead for Egypt’s Salafi-jihadi movement, including the group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya.
Abdel-Rahman , who was Known as the “Blind Sheikh” as he was blind since infancy from diabetes, was a fiery and charismatic speaker who called for the establishment of an Islamic state in Egypt.
The cleric was arrested and tortured in Egyptian prisons, before eventually fleeing the country and entering the US on a tourist visa.
In the mid-1980s, he made his way to Afghanistan to where he acted as a spiritual leader for the mujaheddin in their war against the Soviet Union.
Then, Abdel-Rahman settled in New York where he attracted a significant following enamored to his fundamentalist message and firebrand sermons.
Even in the Middle East, tapes of his talks were secretly shared among supporters, where he spoke repeatedly against Israel and the Egyptian government.
He was due to be deported when he was linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and sentenced to life in prison.
Abdel-Rahman who, along with his co-defendants, denied the charges against him and said,”My killing will be a martyrdom in the cause of God.”
In 2012, Egypt’s democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi called for Abdel Rahman’s transfer to Egypt for “humanitarian reasons,”however US State Department stressed at that time that there was no plan to release him following his trial and conviction.
Moreover, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has also requested its campaigners to send letters to the UN High Commissioner, the UN Special Rapporteur on Heath, and the Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention to call for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman as he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in the US prisons for 18 years.
According to IHRC, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman suffered from low blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.
His psychological health was also deteriorating rapidly; as he complained of hearing sudden loud noises which cause him severe headaches; and of depression and paranoia caused from his extensive solitary confinement.
He has also complained of not receiving adequate medical care to treat his many ailments.
In addition, his family usually complained he was denied the basic rights that other prisoners enjoy, such as visitation, correspondence and even being able to communicate with other prisoners.