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Radicals Claim Allegiance to Cleric

March 10, 1993| Associated Press

HAEKSTAP, Egypt — Forty-three Islamic radicals opened their terrorism trial Tuesday by professing allegiance to an extremist cleric who preaches at the mosque where a Palestinian suspected in the World Trade Center bombing worships.

Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, a blind preacher who has been living in the United States in self-imposed exile for nearly three years, has denounced the bombing in New York, which killed five people and injured more than 1,000 on Feb. 26. His lawyer declined to comment on the defendants' statement.

The statement read by a member of the fundamentalist Islamic Group did not refer to the trade center. But the British Broadcasting Corp. said the group denied any involvement in the bombing in a fax received Monday in Cairo. The fax also threatened retaliation for linking Abdul Rahman's name to the bomb probe.

Abdul Rahman has been acquitted three times by Egyptian courts of charges related to violence by radicals, including ordering the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981--a killing the Muslim radicals claimed responsibility for in their statement Tuesday.

U.S. authorities are trying to expel Abdul Rahman for providing false information on his application for permanent residency in the United States.

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