Judge Finds Sheik Possible Danger to U.S., Denies Release
NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge rejected a request Monday to free Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, saying it is reasonable to regard the blind cleric as a ″danger to the security of the United States.″
U.S. District Court Judge Charles L. Brieant found ″no basis for disturbing″ findings by an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals that the 55-year-old blind cleric and Egyptian citizen be deported.
The judge delayed deportation for 10 days to allow the sheik’s lawyer, Barbara Nelson, time to appeal. Rohit Turkhud, a lawyer in Nelson’s office, said it hadn’t been decided what the sheik’s next legal move would be. He called the judge’s ruling ″disappointing.″
Abdel-Rahman surrendered last month to federal authorities and is detained at the federal prison in Otisville. Nelson had asked Brieant to restore his immigration status and to order him released from prison.
Some of the sheik’s followers were arrested June 23 when the FBI raided a site where preparations allegedly were under way to bomb the United Nations, the federal building housing the FBI and two tunnels under the Hudson River.
Other followers had been arrested earlier in the Feb. 26 bombing of the World Trade Center, where six people died and more than 1,000 were injured.
Abdel-Rahman has said he has no connection to either case.
In a separate development, ABC News reported Monday that high officials of the Sudanese government were involved in the foiled plot to blow up the United Nations building and the other New York sites.
The Islamic nation’s alleged operatives in New York City were two men working for the Sudanese mission to the world body, ABC said, citing U.S. intelligence sources.
It identified the two diplomats as Siraj Yousif, the counselor to the Sudanese mission, and Ahmed Mohamed, the third secretary.
In a telephone interview from his New York home, Yousif told The Associated Press that ″everything mentioned by ABC News is absolutely erroneous and untrue.″
Meanwhile, the decision not to release the sheik could lead to more terrorist activity, said Mohammad T. Mehdi, head of the American-Arab Relations Committee.
″We are disheartened but not surprised. The decision of the judge is a response to the total anti-Muslim prejudicial environment,″ Mehdi said.
He said the ruling could lead to more terrorist acts such as the hijacking Sunday of a KLM jetliner by an Egyptian who demanded freedom for the sheik.
German commandos stormed the jetliner hours after it landed and arrested Khaled Gharib, 40, said Duesseldorf police spokesman Ulf Steinke. The hijacker claimed he had explosives but did not.
He had released the passengers and crew members earlier.