The Egyptian government reportedly has asked the United States to release the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, and send him back to Egypt, according to the Open Source Center, a government clearinghouse of publicly available foreign intelligence.
Abdel-Rahman is the former spiritual leader of the Egyptian terrorist organization, Gama'a al-Islamiyya. He is considered the spiritual inspiration behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence in connection with a subsequent plot to bomb New York landmarks and tunnels.
But his continued imprisonment could spur anger in Egypt and other Islamic states, said his son, Abdallah Abdel-Rahman. Keeping his father in custody would show that the United States did not seek to combat terrorism, but rather sought war on Islam.
He asked Egyptian officials to make a similar request, and an official at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice indicated that had been done. The official recommended Abdallah Abdel-Rahman make his own request to the U.S. government for his father's repatriation since the two countries have no joint agreement for the exchange of prisoners.
Last month, hundreds of Gama'a members protested near the U.S. embassy in Cairo demanding Abdel-Rahman's release.