Cleric charged with conspiracy to bomb Trade Center: Muslim leader 'plotted to attack targets' in United States
The outspoken and radical leader, who is in federal custody in the US, where he has been trying to negotiate the terms of his deportation, was also accused alongside three others with conspiring to murder the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
The blind 55-year-old sheikh, who has a considerable Islamic following - especially among more extreme elements - has repeatedly denounced the attack on the World Trade Center in February, in which six people died. But a federal indictment unsealed in a New York court last night says he was 'consulted in pursuing and planning bombings, murders and other acts of terrorism', including the Trade Center attack. Fourteen others are also charged with participating in the alleged conspiracies.
The indictment says the sheikh 'provided instruction regarding whether particular acts of terrorism were permissible or forbidden, served as a mediator of disputes among members of the organisation and undertook to protect the organisation from infiltration by law enforcement authorities'. It said there were also plans to attack unspecified US military targets. The sheikh and his co-defendants are scheduled to be arraigned today.
Western analysts have maintained that Mr Abdel-Rahman, while not a mainstream Islamic leader, commands a fundamentalist following which is similar to that of the late Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. He has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since he was acquitted a decade ago in Egypt on charges that he sanctioned the assassination of the then Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, in 1981.
The new indictment accused the 15 men of being embroiled in a conspiracy that included the World Trade Center bombing. It also links them to a plot to bomb other sites in the New York area which was foiled when it was uncovered by the authorities in June. The targets allegedly included the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels connecting New York City and New Jersey, and a building housing FBI offices. All the accused have pleaded innocent.
The indictment referred to an organisation, allegedly headed by the sheikh, which has carried out assorted acts of terrorism for at least four years, including bombings and murders aimed at the US government and governments abroad. Eleven of the 15 defendants had already been charged with plotting the bombing spree in New York City, although none of them had previously been charged with the Trade Center bombing.
The new indictment had been promised a month ago by prosecutors who were transcribing hundreds of hours of tape recordings captured by a government informant who had become a close confidant of Mr Abdel-Rahman, an outspoken foe of Egypt's secular governent. Prosecutors have said the government infiltrated the alleged terror ring in November 1991 but did not get information about the Trade Center before the attack.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Salary Package - £60K to £120K: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting op...
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer - Urgent Requirem...
£70000 - £95000 per annum + Bonus, flexible working hours, remote work: Progre...
£50000 - £56000 per annum + Benefits package, flexible working hours: Progress...