Muslims convicted of New York 'terror war'

The most sweeping terrorism trial in American history concluded in New York yesterday with guilty verdicts against 10 Muslim militants who had been accused variously of plotting to blow up buildings, bridges and tunnels, undermine the government and assassinate the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

After 37 hours of deliberation at the end of a trial that had already lasted nine months, the jury in the New York court delivered the verdicts late yesterday morning, vindicating prosecutors who had said that the 10 had come close to unleashing a "war of urban terrorism" on Manhattan, designed to persuade the US government to change its policy in the Middle East.

The leader of the group was Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind 57-year- old Islamic cleric who first came to the US and the New York area in 1990. He was found guilty on five different counts of attempted terrorism, including solicitation to murder President Mubarak.

Also among the defendants was El Sayyid Nosair, a soldier of the Islamic Jihad movement who was separately found guilty of involvement in the 1990 assassination in New York of the extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane. Nosair had been acquitted of the murder in 1991, but jailed for related weapons charges.

At the heart of the trial, however, were the allegations that all eight other defendants had, with the encouragement of Sheikh Rahman, engaged in an elaborate plot to bomb a series of New York buildings and landmarks. According to prosecutors, five bombs were to be detonated in just 10 minutes, destroying two tunnels leading into Manhattan, the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations headquarters.

FBI videos submitted as evidence showed the men mixing bomb-making materials in a New York garage. The defence said the eight believed that the bombs would be used to aid the Muslim side in Bosnia.

The government believes that Sheikh Rahman and Nosair were sent to the United States as part of a wider campaign, led by Islamic Jihad, to destabilise the US government and weaken its friendly ties with Israel and Egypt. The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 was believed to have been part of the campaign.

The World Trade Center attack, which left six dead, was repeatedly evoked by the prosecution during the trial, although no specific evidence linking the ten to it was offered. Four men were jailed for the bombing of the twin towers in a separate trial last year.

The government will celebrate yesterday's convictions, which it hopes will mark the crumbling of the threat by Islamic fundamentalists in New York. The authorities will feel more comfortable having the ten behind bars during the UN 50th anniversary celebrations later this month, when the heads of government of nearly 150 nations will cram into the UN complex.

The defence lawyer for Sheikh Rahman, Lyne Stewart, cried in court yesterday. "He is not the first person to go to prison for his beliefs, and he won't be the last," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Manufacturing Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a rare opportunity for ...

Recruitment Genius: Conveyancing Fee Earner / Technical Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Fee Earner/Techn...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'