Lessons from the Blind Sheikh

from the Middle East Forum:

One of America’s oldest Islamist enemies, Omar Abdel Rahman, popularly known as the “Blind Sheikh,” died February 18 in a U.S. federal prison after nearly a quarter century behind bars. Though he did incalculable damage to our security during his illustrious career, he also taught us three valuable lessons, even if we’re reluctant to fully apply them.

First, Abdel Rahman showed us how devastating an impact the arrival of just one unvetted Islamic militant can have.

Abdel Rahman was an esteemed scholar of Islamic jurisprudence before becoming spiritual leader of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, a violent offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, during the 1970s. In 1981 he was jailed for issuing a fatwa authorizing the murder of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Released three years later, Abdel Rahman played a major role recruiting mujahideen networks fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and has often been credited by Osama bin Laden with inspiring al-Qaeda. read more