Blind Islamic terrorist spiritual leader will remain incarcerated in U.S.
Figure helped plan 1993 bombing of World Trade Center
The blind spiritual leader of Egypt's largest Islamic extremist fundamentalist group, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman will remain incarcerated in the U.S., Obama administration officials say. Rahman was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi prior to taking office had told a cheering crowd in Cairo that he would press the Obama administration to free the blind sheik, pictured, who was convicted for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Republicans had previously raised concerns that Egyptian leaders may be pressing the Obama administration to free him. Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey had raised concerns in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week. Mukasey claimed that there was circumstantial evidence that a secret deal was under way as a goodwill gesture to the new Egyptian government.
Mukasey added it may be time for Congress to make clear that any such release would be a "gross betrayal of public trust that would justify removal from high office."
Rahman is serving his life sentence in a federal prison hospital in North Carolina. Convicted in 1995 for his role in supporting a plot to bomb the United Nations, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and assassinate then-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., and current Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-N.Y.
"The blind sheik will serve the rest of his life in a federal prison serving time for terrorism . and those who suggest otherwise are badly misinformed," a Justice Department spokesman said.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., sent a letter earlier this month to the State and Justice departments saying such a release would be "a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its president."
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi prior to taking office had told a cheering crowd in Cairo that he would press the Obama administration to free the blind sheik.
"I see signs for Omar Abdel Rahman and detainees pictures," Morsi said. "It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abdel Rahman."
New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, condemned Morsi comments at the time.
"Sheik Rahman is a terrorist who planned to kill innocent Americans. Rest assured he will stay right where he belongs -- in jail for the rest of his life," Schumer said in June.
Gillibrand reiterated that any attempt to release the sheik would trigger a firestorm of opposition.
"If there is any attempt in the future to free this convicted terrorist it will be met with swift condemnation and action to stop it," she said.
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