BY HEBA AFIFY
CAIRO (AP) — The body of a blind Egyptian cleric convicted of plotting terror attacks in New York was brought back to Egypt and handed over to his family for burial on Wednesday, following his death in a U.S. federal prison over the weekend.
Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called Blind Sheikh, was arrested in 1993 and convicted in 1995 along with nine followers of conspiracy to blow up the United Nations and several New York City landmarks. He was serving a life sentence in prison when he died on Saturday.
He was the spiritual leader of Gamaa Islamiya, the most feared militant group in Egypt in the 1980s and 1990s, and fled to the United States in 1990.
Dozens of his followers, along with his son Mohammed, daughter Asmaa and other family and relatives, waited at the Cairo airport to receive the body and take it to his hometown in Dakahliya province.
Cairo airport official Medhat Kandil confirmed to The Associated Press that Abdel-Rahman’s body had been handed over to the family.
Another son, Ibrahim Abdel-Rahman, told the AP that his father had wished to be buried in his Nile Delta town of Gamaliya.
In The United States, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who lost his eyesight in infancy from diabetes, was convicted of involvement in a broad terrorist plot that includes 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.
He was also convicted of plotting a string of bombings against the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and other New York landmarks, and of plotting to kill Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president at the time.
Previously, Abdel-Rahman was arrested in Egypt in 1981 and tried for involvement in the assassination of former President Anwar Al-Sadat, which was carried out by Gamaa Islamiya. He was acquitted and released in 1984.
Along with diabetes, he also suffered from coronary artery disease.
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