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FBI issues warning on ailing sheik

December 15, 2006|From Newsday

WASHINGTON — The Egyptian "blind sheik" convicted in 1995 in connection with a plot to blow up the World Trade Center suffered a "medical emergency" at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo., last week, and the FBI is warning that his apparently imminent death could trigger attacks against the United States.

Law enforcement officials said an FBI advisory was sent about the deteriorating condition of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, 68, "out of an abundance of caution," but there was no specific threat information.

The cleric, considered a spiritual leader to the Islamist radical movement, was taken to a Springfield hospital emergency room after spitting up blood.

He was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, officials said.

The cleric is now "stable" and has been returned to the prison, according to Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Thursday that the FBI had shared its assessment with his department, "and we'll take appropriate precautions as ... our intelligence indicates."

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