Omar Abdel Rahman was a major player in Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group that also counted Ayman al-Zawahiri (Osama bin Laden's second-in-command) among its leaders. In 1995, Rahman was convicted of conspiring to blow up landmarks in New York City and for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and sent to federal prison. Actually, he is in the "super max," the most secure prison in the country.
Rahman's group was not just connected to al Qaeda via Zawahiri. It also drew the attention of Saddam's intelligence service. A memo from the Iraqi Intelligence Service, written in 1993 and published by CNSNews.com in October, 2004, listed Egyptian Islamic Jihad as the most violent group in Egypt, and named Rahman as its leader. Rahman also led a terrorist organization known as the Islamic Group.
Why does this networking matter? Because local terrorist groups can provide recruits that are better able to blend into areas near their targets in a given country. A local group will also know the local scene, and can vet potential recruits to make sure they aren't actually plants. Local cells can be deadly. The attacks in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 were carried out by local terrorists. Prior to 2001, they could get trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan (at least two of the London bombers did just that), and could return to their home countries to set up new cells that could carry out attacks, and recruit more terrorists.
This latest revelation shows just how far the al Qaeda network reaches, and gives us a look into how long it has been active. In a sense, al Masri has given the United States some valuable information – simply by announcing his desire to free Rahman. He has also told the United States how important he considers Rahman to be. It also shows that the world of Islamic terrorism is a small one. – Harold C. Hutchison ( email@example.com)
One interesting revelation in the latest tape from al Qaeda- in- Iraq leader Abu Ayyab al Masri, is the call for help in securing the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric whose followers carried out the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the 1990 assassination of Meir Kahane. This revelations opens the doors to one intriguing point about terrorism: Terrorists network, and this networking connects a number of players.