Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, known as “The Blind Sheikh“, died on Saturday in a Federal prison in South Carolina while serving a life sentence for masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The WTC car-bombing attack left six dead and approximately 1,000 injured. Abdel-Rahman was arrested on June 24, 1993, along with nine of his followers. On October 1, 1995, he was convicted of seditious conspiracy, and in 1996 was sentenced to life in solitary confinement without parole. He was 78 years old when he passed away.
He was also accused of planning to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels in New York. He was the spiritual leader of Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
His death is a timely note concerning the ongoing debate over President Trump’s travel ban. In 1990, Abdel Rahman was issued a tourist visa to visit the United States by the consul of the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, despite his name being listed on a U.S. State Department terrorist watch list. He was issued a green card in 1991, despite his tourist visa being revoked several months earlier. His green card was revoked in 1992, but he was later granted political asylum, despite giving rabidly anti-American sermons at several mosques.