New York bomb plot cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman dies in prison

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

A blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the United States in connection with a failed plot to blow up landmarks in New York City has died.

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman was sentenced to life in prison after his 1995 conviction for his advisory role in a plot to blow up landmarks, including the United Nations, and several bridges and tunnels.

Kenneth McKoy, of the Federal Correction Complex in Butner, North Carolina, said Rahman died on Saturday after a long battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Abdel-Rahman, who was 78, had been a key spiritual leader for a generation of Islamic militants and became a symbol for radicals during a decade in American prisons.

Abdel-Rahman, who had been blind since infancy from diabetes, was the leader of one of Egypt's most feared militant groups, the Gamaa Islamiya, which led a campaign of violence aimed at bringing down ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

He fled Egypt to the US in 1990 and began teaching in a New Jersey mosque.

A circle of his followers were convicted over the February 26 1993 truck bombing of New York's World Trade Centre that killed six people - eight years before al Qaida's suicide plane hijackers brought the towers down.

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