Fallen Leaders Gallery 9

Fallen Leaders Gallery 9

9. SHEIKH OMAR ABDEL-RAHMAN (Muslim)

Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, is believed to be the mastermind behind the 1993 plot to blow up the World Trade Center.

Offense: Known as the "Blind Sheikh," Abdel-Rahman is believed to be the mastermind behind the 1993 plot to blow up the World Trade Center. Before coming to the U.S. in 1990 (despite being on a State Department terrorist watch list), he had a history of ties to Islamic militant groups. In New York, he surrounded himself with loyal extremists while maintaining the fa├žade of a wise, albeit ultra-conservative, sheikh to the New York-New Jersey Muslim community--until he shocked his community by issuing a fatwa encouraging Muslims to engage in violence against U.S. civilians.

Consequence/Punishment: He was convicted in 1995 with a group of nine men of "seditious conspiracy" and is now serving a life sentence in federal prison.

Effect on Community: Though moderate Muslims turned their back on the sheikh after he was exposed, Abdel-Rahman still commands a loyal following among Islamic extremists around the world, including Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda members. Islamic militants often cite his case as a rallying point. Abdel-Rahman remains committed to his beliefs.


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