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Cleric Accused in N.Y. Bomb Plot Is Hospitalized With Pneumonia

November 18, 1994|JOHN J. GOLDMAN and ROBERT L. JACKSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

NEW YORK — Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric charged with plotting to bomb the United Nations and other Manahttan landmarks was hospitalized Thursday suffering from pneumonia.

Abdul Rahman, 56, who has diabetes and heart disease, had been undergoing treatment for the pneumonia in prison where he and 12 other defendants are awaiting trial. But after his condition worsened, physicians decided it was necessary he receive intensified therapy and diagnostic tests.

Emanuel A. Moore, an attorney representing the sheik, said that federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey will determine at a hearing on Monday whether the trial scheduled to start Nov. 28 will have to be postponed.

"If his condition persists, it will cause a delay," Moore said.

On Tuesday, Moore visited with Abdul Rahman, and later said the sheik "was not in good shape at all" and the cleric had been given medication.

Abdul Rahman has been imprisoned more than a year on charges he headed a bombing and assassination conspiracy against the United States. According to the indictment, the targets included not only the United Nations building on Manhattan's East Side, but the Lincoln and Holland tunnels linking New York with New Jersey and the federal building containing the New York field office of the FBI.

Prosecutors also charged the terrorists planned to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a visit to Manhattan, and to kill or kidnap public officials in a scheme to force the release of sympathizers from prison.

Several of the suspects were seized as they mixed explosives in a garage in Queens, the FBI said, and others were added to the conspiracy later. The arrests were an outgrowth of the investigation of the bombing on Feb. 26, 1993, of the World Trade Center that killed six people and injured more than 1,000. Four defendants were convicted in that case and each was sentenced to 240 years in prison.

The case against the sheik relies primarily on recordings secretly taped by the sheik's former bodyguard, Emad Ali Salem, who is the government's chief informant in the case.

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