Supporters carry the coffin at the funeral of Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian extremist Gamaa Islamiya group, at al-Gamaliya town in Dakahlia Governorate. Abdel Rahman, who was considered the mastermind behind bomb plots in New York and sentenced to life in 1996. He died on February 18 in a US prison.
Supporters carry the coffin at the funeral of Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian extremist Gamaa Islamiya group, at al-Gamaliya town in Dakahlia Governorate. Abdel Rahman, who was considered the mastermind behind bomb plots in New York and sentenced to life in 1996. He died on February 18 in a US prison. KHALED ELFIQI

Villain to some a hero to others

THOUSANDS have turned out for the funeral of "the blind sheikh”, the Muslim cleric convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.

Also convicted of planning a broader "war of urban terrorism” in the US, Omar Abdel-Rahman, 78, died on Saturday in a North Carolina prison.

Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were among a wide range of Islamist movements to issue statements of mourning.

Hundreds of mourners carrying signs with messages such as "we will meet in heaven” and chanting "we will defend you with blood and soul, Islam,” gathered at al-Gamaliya, his hometown in Egypt's Nile Delta, to wait for his body as it returned from the US via Cairo.

By the time of his funeral, the crowd had grown to thousands.

Abdel-Rahman lost his eyesight to childhood diabetes and grew up studying a Braille version of the Koran.

He remained a spiritual leader for radical Muslims even after more than 20 years in prison.

He also was accused of issuing a fatwa leading to the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat.



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