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Individual Terrorists

Omar Abdel Rahman

Updated July 9, 2008

a.k.a. Omar Ahmad Ali Abdel-Rahman, Blind Sheik

Omar Adbel Rahman, the former leader of the Egyptian terrorist organization, Gama'a al-Islamiyya, is currently serving life plus 65 years at the Supermax penitentiary in Florence, Colorado for seditious conspiracy, solitication and conspiracy to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, solicitation to attack a military installation, and bombing conspiracy. Some of these crimes related to a plot to bomb the New York FBI headquarters, the United Nations building, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge, and military installations. Click here to see the indictment.

Omar Abdel Rahman was born in Egypt in 1938. After boarding school, he attended Al Azar University in Cairo. After he graduated in 1965, he took up a post as an imam in a town outside of Cairo. He became known for promoting the takfir ideology. This extremist ideology prescribes identifying Muslims who violate strict Islamic principles as apostates who deserve death. After criticizing Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Rahman was imprisoned for eight months.

Upon his release, he moved to Saudi Arabia for a few years where he developed a valuable network of contacts that supported the militant strain of Islam he promoted. When he returned to Egypt, he became known for writing fatwas that supported the actions of terrorists and some of his followers assassinated Egyptian Presdient Anwar Sadat, but Rahman himself was acquited due to a lack of evidence of organizational ties between himself and the assassins.

In the 1980s, he became involved in supporting the cause of jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets and met with Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's mentor, in Pakistan. In 1990, Rahman moved to New York City, where he began recruiting aspiring jihadists to plan a campaign of attacks in the United States.