Obama Coddles Twin Towers Bomber

Washington Times Editorial

The Obama administration is reportedly in talks with Egypt’s government to  transfer convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman back to his home country. This  would be a major foreign-policy blunder and an insult to the counterterrorism  professionals who put the terror leader behind bars.

Rahman, known as the “Blind Sheikh,” was the leader of the terrorist group  Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, which conducted a series of attacks in Egypt in the early  1990s. Rahman was in exile in New York at the time, preaching at mosques,  fundraising, building a radical following and conspiring to create mayhem in  America. Rahman and nine of his acolytes were arrested after the February 1993  World Trade Center bombing. In 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison for his  part in the plot.

Securing Rahman’s freedom is a cause celebre among Islamists. The “Abdel  Rahman Brigades” have mounted a series of attacks in his name in Libya and may  have motivated the Sept. 11 murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and  three other Americans. The Blind Shiekh’s family organized the demonstration  outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo on the same day during which a mob breached  the embassy perimeter, tore down the American flag and raised the black banner  of jihad. The pre-planned event was billed as, “The real terrorist — America or  Omar Abdel Rahman?” Rahman’s son Abdullah said that sheikh’s return would be “the start of real reconciliation” between the United States and Egypt, and the  family is confident Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will keep his campaign  promise of working to secure the sheikh’s release. The issue is expected to come  up when Mr. Morsi meets with President Obama next week in New York.

Rahman’s Islamist supporters portray the sheikh as a man of peace who was  innocently caught up in events in which he was not involved. The Egyptian  government isn’t challenging Rahman’s conviction but instead is seeking his  release on humanitarian grounds. The sheikh is 74, in ill-health and being held  at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina. The model for the transfer  would be the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of 270 counts  of murder for his role in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie,  Scotland. In 2009, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, al-Megrahi was  transferred from Scotland to Libya on “compassionate grounds.” There he lived  another three years. Islamist radicals would like the blind sheikh to receive  the same compassion al-Megrahi did, but that is more solicitude than Rahman  showed his victims.

The White House should balk at any early release for the sheikh. Given the  current level of anti-American violence in the region, it would look like — and  in fact be — a concession to terrorism. Rahman’s transfer, if it comes, would  have to wait for Mr. Obama’s flex time after the election. Mr. Obama and Mr.  Morsi may also discuss transferring accused al Qaeda explosives expert Tarek El  Sawah, the last Egyptian detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Releasing the blind sheikh on any grounds would embolden radicals abroad and  demoralize America’s counterterrorism efforts. It would also undermine the Obama  administration’s argument that terrorists be tried in civilian courts. Rahman’s  case is a model for this type of justice. He and his co-conspirators were  afforded full due-process rights, given their days in court and convicted. He  did the crime here; he should serve the time here.


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