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Blind Sheikh Dead But His

Network Lives On in America


The Blind Sheikhs jihadist collaborators continue to be active enough
for the NYPD to gather intelligence on some of them.
BY RYAN MAURO
Mon, February 20, 2017

Inset: the Blind Sheikh (Photo: Video screenshot)

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Blind Sheikh Dead But His Network Lives On in America

The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, best known for his role in the 1993 World
Trade Center bombing, has just died in prison, but his work lives on. He was not only a
U.S.-based leader of the Gamaa Islamiyya terrorist group, but part of the connective
tissue of an interconnected jihadist network that still operates today.
The Blind Sheikh and his U.S.-based network were like a cornucopia of jihadist
offerings. His Gamaa Islamiyya, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, Jamaat ul-
Fuqra (now known as Muslims of America) and other jihadist entities all overlapped in
a sort of terrorist Internet, as one congressional testimony explained. It is through this
Internet that the Blind Sheikhs work lives on.
The best example is Jamaat ul-Fuqra, now known as Muslims of America, which is best
known for its Islamberg headquarters in New York and its claim to having 22 such
Islamic villages across the country. The Clarion Project has launched a comprehensive
website about the organization at FuqraFiles.com.
A section of the Fuqra Files website documents the close ties between Fuqra and the
Blind Sheikh. It is an odd match considering Fuqras ideology as a Sufi cult but was
useful to the Blind Sheikh due to the groups criminal experience and
robust infrastructure including remote enclaves and jihadist training sites.

The Blind Sheikh was one of the very few Islamic preachers that Fuqras Pakistan-based
leader, Sheikh Gilani, openly preached in support of. Despite being a cult dedicated to
Gilani, authorities found posters of the Blind Sheikh when they raided Fuqras 101-acre
terrorist training camp in Colorado in 1992.

Various law enforcement sources have told the Clarion Project that Fuqra had concrete
links to the Blind Sheikhs bombing of the World Trade Center and planned follow-up
attacks. Some of the Blind Sheikhs top operatives belonged to Fuqras network.

In fact, the links between Fuqra and Blind Sheikh were so strong that a 1993 intelligence
report by the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare
said that Fuqras militant operations in the U.S. were essentially under the control of the
Blind Sheikh, with Sheikh Gilani acting mostly as a spiritual leader.

Fuqra still operates in the U.S. today. The Clarion Project recently published a FBI
report from 2003 warning that Fuqra has links to Al-Qaeda and members go to Pakistan
for guerilla warfare training and possible involvement in other jihadist groups.
The Blind Sheikh essentially contracted some of his dirty work to other groups, such as
Islamist criminal gangs. For example, Marcus Robertson, who led Ali Baba and the 40
Thieves, served as a bodyguard for the Blind Sheikh, as did jihadists associated with
Hamas. Today, Robertson leads a radical Islamic seminary in Florida.
The Blind Sheikhs jihadist collaborators continue to be active enough for the NYPD to
gather intelligence on some of them. One such example was Mohammed El-Shinawy,
the son of a close associate of the Blind Sheikhs. Elshinawy preached at two major
Islamist mosques in New York, Masjid at-Taqwa (whose imam was also very close to the
Blind Sheikh) and Masjid al-Ansar.
Another close associate of the Blind Sheikhs, Hesham El-Ashry, also spoke at the
mosque frequently and preached that the U.S. would suffer from violent jihad if the
Blind Sheikh was not released. Notably, the Blind Sheikhs release was a top demand of
the Muslim Brotherhood after it took over Egypt, again reflecting the
interconnectedness of the Islamist web.
The NYPD had a wealth of information justifying its intelligence gathering on these
subjects. Predictably, the Islamists sued the NYPD, accused the police of anti-Muslim
discrimination, elevated the radicals as persecuted victims and won favorable media
coverage.

The Blind Sheikh is dead, but his network lives on.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.orgs national security analyst, a fellow


with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is
frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange
a speaking engagement.