'Blind Sheik' linked to 1993 World Trade Center bombing dies in US federal prison
Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman died in federal prison early Saturday morning.
February 18, 2017, 7:00 PM
• 3 min read
-- Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks, died early Saturday morning, federal officials said.
According to a statement from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, Rahman died Saturday at approximately 5:40 a.m. ET "from natural causes after a long health battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease." He was 78.
His next of kin has been notified of his death, the statement said.
Rahman, known as "the blind sheik," was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for his advisory role in a plot to blow up landmarks, including the United Nations, and several bridges and tunnels throughout New York City. He was also linked to a bombing at the World Trade Center in February 1993 that killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others.
Using evidence collected by an Egyptian informant, the U.S. government prosecuted Rahman for conspiracy in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack. After the bombing, the U.S. government recorded the sheikh encouraging further violence against targets in New York and New Jersey. Rahman and nine of his followers were arrested in June 1993.
Eight years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Rahman was kept in federal prisons since 1993, most recently at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.
In December 2006, Rahman suffered a "medical emergency" at the federal prison in Springfield, Missouri, and the FBI warned at the time that his death could lead Al Qaeda to launch terror attacks against the United States in reprisal.
According to an FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News at the time, Rahman began to spit up blood on Dec. 6 and was rushed from prison to St. John's Regional Hospital to receive emergency treatment.
"He accepted a needed transfusion to replace lost blood. While he was under examination, medical authorities also discovered a tumor on his liver," the FBI bulletin noted.
ABC News' Rym Momtaz and Benjamin Stein contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.