Blind Sheik, mastermind of 1993 World Trade Center attack, dies at 78

  • The blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, died Saturday at a North Carolina prison hospital, officials said.

    The 78-year-old cleric of Egyptian origin died of natural causes inside the Federal Medical Center in Butner at about 5:40 a.m.

    He was suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease. Blind Sheik was shifted to Butner in February 2007 after spending many years at a Supermax federal prison in Colorado.

    Abdel-Rahman was the face of Islamic terrorism even before the public learned about Osama Bin Laden.

    A federal jury in Manhattan had found the radical cleric guilty in 1995 of spearheading a foiled plot to blast the Lincoln and Holland tunnels along with the United Nations and the FBI’s New York headquarters.

    The FBI had arrested Abdel-Rahman along with nine other conspirators inside a Queens safe house. Abdel-Rahman was sentenced in 1996 to life in prison.