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

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.

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

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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