In a recent column, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted the pending White House visit of newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and Morsi's vow to try to persuade the United States to release blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.
Rahman was considered the inspiration behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a subsequent plot to attack New York City landmarks and tunnels. Egyptians claim the sheik is innocent, which struck McCarthy as a little amusing, since he prosecuted Abdel Rahman. "I can only say that it's awfully hard to retract a tape," he wrote, "which is a problem for Abdel Rahman since the most damning evidence against him did not come from witnesses but from his own mouth — his calls for attacks on American military installations and the like were recorded for posterity on tape."
It's part of what McCarthy calls the Muslim Brotherhood's "moderate two-step." Morsi plays the statesmen while Abdel Rahman's son "has threatened to attack the American embassy and hold its employees hostage in order to extort pop's release."
What would Abdel-Rahman's release, and subsequent return to Egypt, do to that country? After electing Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, and stacking Parliament with fellow Brotherhood members and harder-line Salafis, the country already is described as unnerved at the spike in Islamist fervor. A group calling itself the "Promotion of Virtue and Vice" killed an engineering student earlier this month for the sin of walking with his fiancée.
In addition to his connection to the 1993 Trade Center bombing, Abdel Rahman has a lengthy record of radical incitement. He issued a fatwa justifying the murder of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and was tied to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was led by al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.