“Muslims everywhere to dismember their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, . . . shoot down their planes, [and] kill them on land, at sea, and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them.”
(Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman’s fatwa against the United States, 1998)
Mohammed al-Faisal, son of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was very much like his father…a visionary. On July 5th 1979 al-Faisal,along with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi financiers…and one other notable radical, Omar Abdel Rahman the “Blind Sheikh”, made an investment. That investment was towards an Islamic bank, which would serve as a parent institution for 55 other Islamic banks, the Dar al-Maal al-Islami Trust (the house of Islamic money). But just who was Rahman?
1939, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt….At 11 months old, Rahman was afflicted with blindness. However he began to learn braille at a very young age, and by age 11 had memorized the Quran. A follower of Sayyid Qutb at age 15, in which he became enamored by his teachings regarding his detrimental view of the West, including the United States. But it was Qutb’s vision for the Arab world which drew Rahman close to his works. The implementation of Islamic law into secular Arab governments. As Rahman grew older he became to view Egypt’s government under President Gamel Abdel Nasser, as promoting secularism. Rahman became disillusioned with Arab society, as Egypt had begun to live a Westernized lifestyle under Nasser who was a strict nationalist who kept the ultra-orthodox in check.
In 1970, Anwar Sadat became it’s new President, which lasted 11 years. But the rising power of the radical Islamist groups such as Tanzir al-Jihad and Gamma Islamiyyah tried forcing a theocratic government in Egypt, and it became virulent under the fervent members such as Mohammed abd al-Salam Faraj, Aboud El Zomor, Karam Zudi and Omar Abdel Rahman who then issued a fatwa toward Sadat. Faraj explains that Sadat’s assassination was strictly about implementing a Salfist ideology and Sharia Law in Egypt. Over 330 Islamists were arrested under orders from Hosni Mubarak, who had been issued the Presidency with Sadat’s untimely death. Rahman was amongst those arrested along with his adversary Ayman al-Zawahiri (Tanzir al-Jihad). Rahman had belonged to Gamma Islamiyyah, but had close connections with the al-Jihad group as well. Due to Rahman being blind, he was subsequently released from Tora prison without charge.
Egypt had expelled him, and Rahman relocated to Afghanistan in 1984, to participate in the global jihad, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Rahman would travel to the Sudan and Egypt, where he would apply for a tourist US Visa, all the whole he is under a terrorist watch list which is issued to all naturalization centers around the world. The Cairo U.S embassy where Rahman went to apply had CIA agents employed as its staff. There he would be granted a U.S tourist visa, however he would be granted time and time again in his renewal. A State Department representative discovered that Rahman had, in fact, received four United States visas dating back to December 15, 1986. All were given to him by CIA agents acting as consular officers at American embassies in Khartoum and Cairo. The response from the CIA was simply to feign ignorance. They had not known Rahman was on a terrorist watch list, nor have they ever heard of him before.
Rahman would enter the United States from between 1986–1990. He would visit mosques in Arizona, Detroit, Minneapolis and New York. His job was to raise funding for the jihad in Afghanistan thru the Maktab al-Khidamat in Peshawar, Pakistan and in Brooklyn, New York headed by Mustafa Shalabi, Fawaz Darma and Ali Shinawy the founders of the Al Kifah Refugee Center. The center acted as an extension to the al-Khidamat in Pakistan. Millions of dollars flowed thru here, it was also being partly funded by the CIA under “Operation Cyclone” which was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the jihadists from 1979–1989. Rahman would travel to Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan as well. However after the war, Rahman had settled into the Al Farouq mosque, next door to the Al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn to head as the imam. There he would become immediately noticed by the more fervent believers of Salafi Islam, their jihad didn’t end in Afghanistan Rahman would explain in his sermons, it was now directed to the “Great Satan”, the United States.
Mustafa Shalabi was the moderate local imam at Al Farouq. he had personally invited Rahman to speak in 1989, when the Blind Sheikh came he never left. Rahman’s speeches were taped on cassette and even sold to the locals in New York, New Jersey. His followers now dominated the mosque, all under the watchful eye of the CIA as well as local authorities from the FBI. The sermons became more sensationally violent laden, and Shalabi began to worry about whether inviting Rahman was a good idea. Shalabi would then argue with Rahman about the funding for the war should now be better spent on rebuilding Afghanistan and helping the Palestinian cause in Israel. In which Rahman vehemently disagreed.
Rahman wanted to use the funding to further the jihad here in the states as well as using part of it to help overthrow Mubarak’s government in Egypt. Shalbi was labeled a “munafiq” (Fake Muslim) by Rahman followers and the Blind Sheikh began spreading false rumors in which Shalabi began to hide out in his home. Just one day before Shalabi was to move to Egypt where he sent his wife. Shalabi’s body is found in his house on March 1. He had been shot and stabbed multiple times and $100,000 was stolen. Shalabi is found with two red hairs in his hand, in which local investigators began to suspect one of the Al Farouq Rahman followers, Mahmud Abouhalima, who is red-headed, for the murder. They never make the connection. Shalabi’s murder is still open.
By July 1993, the New York Times had penned an expose regarding the Blind Sheikh’s tourist visas:
“Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism, Government officials said today. Mr. Abdel Rahman helped to recruit Arab Muslims to fight in the American-backed war in Afghanistan, and his lawyer and Egyptian officials have said he was helped by the C.I.A. to enter the United States. American officials had acknowledged last week that the diplomat at the United States Embassy in Khartoum who signed the May 1990 visa request that allowed Mr. Abdel Rahman to enter the United States was in fact a C.I.A. officer.”
Rahman’s core group of followers were beginning to train in firearms. Ali Mohamed, a U.S Special Forces soldier, CIA & FBI informant had been a loyal subject to Omar Abdel Rahman. Mohamed was also an Egyptian, and was closely linked with Rahman and at times even trained the Al Farouq members. In one such instance in 1989, members of the Al Farouq mosque visit the Calverton shooting range in Long Island, New York. El Sayyid Nosair, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, and Clement Rodney Hampton-El were photographed by FBI investigators who were monitoring the group for some time.
Each weekend, Mohamed’s trainees drive from Al-Kifah to the shooting range and a small FBI surveillance team follows them. Meanwhile in Egypt, terrorist activities from Gamma Islamiyyah were beginning to become more extreme. In 1993, Egypt suffered a spate of terrorist attacks. In that year, over 1,100 people in Egypt were either killed or wounded due to terrorist attack. Rahman’s speeches and anti-government lectures heard in Canada and the United States while an FBI informant acting as his bodyguard an driver, Emad Salem, had begun surveillance operations from within the mosque.
By 1990, Rahman began to also lecture at the El Salaam Mosque in Jersey City. While there, there was also another FBI informant, who didn't garner as much attention as the previous one in Brooklyn. Mamdouh Zaki Zakhary began attending the El Salaam Mosque, while Rahman gave his sermons there from time to time. According to Zakhary:
“They were talking all the time about targeting American symbols, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty. A few of the guys came to the mosque to pray and go home. But others gathered to conspire in small groups, talking in deep, low voices. They see the U.S. as an imperialist power, the Big Satan, the root of all the evil in the world.”
Two of the mosques more militant loyal followers of Rahman, Mohammed Salameh and Ibrahim Elgabrowny, both of whom would have a larger impact as they were subsequently involved in the 1993 bombing of the North Tower. However, this was not in planning at the time. Zakhary could not get close to the inner circle. Emad Salem however did. On November 5th 1990, what would be known as the first “terrorist attack” inside the United States happened inside the Halloran House, a midtown Manhattan hotel. El Sayyid Nosair, one of Rahman’s most loyal followers was dressed modestly even adorning a kippah (Jewish hat) when he walked up to a table which had a known Jewish supremacist talking with others, Rabbi Meir Kahane.
Kahane himself was a known Jewish militant and founder of the Jewish Defense League, which proscribes Israel being only for Jews. Nosair walked in front of Kahane and pulled out a 357 magnum. Kahane was shot once in the throat at point-blank range killing him in short succession, while Nosair bolted outside as Kahane’s men gave chase thru the city streets. During a running gun battle down Lexington Avenue, Nosair was wounded by an off-duty postal inspector and finally captured by New York City police. Word got back to the blind sheikh, Nosair had assassinated Kahane successfully. It sent shock-waves thru-ought New York, since the story was downplayed almost immediately, a lone crazed gunman had killed the volatile Kahane.
However, Zakhary knew immediately what had happened. Zakhary explains:
“When I heard about it I called the FBI and identified him (Nosair),’ I told them he was a member of the mosque and that he was very close with the sheikh (Abdel Rahman). I told them that, four days before, I saw with my own eyes the sheikh meeting with Nosair at a Lebanese restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It was 7 p.m. There was Nosair, the sheikh, a person escorting the sheikh, and another person I don’t know. They were deep in conversation.”
With this information NY investigators were issued a search arrant for Nosair’s home in New Jersey. While there they found a hit list Scrawled on a bank calendar in Nosair’s home was a “hit list” that included the names of a U.S. representative, two federal judges, and a former assistant U.S. Attorney. They would also find an alarming amount of evidence which would give immediate suspicion that the “lone gunman” theory would not hold true, they consisted of bomb-making manuals, AK-47 cartridges, a stolen New York State license plate, and a bullet-riddled target board. They would also find documents and manuals from Fort Bragg, North Carolina…..these documents could only come from one person, Ali Mohamed who was a Green beret situated in Fort Bragg. The same man who helped in firearms and guerrilla warfare training for the members of the Al Farouq mosque. It suggested that something inside the United States was indeed rapidly fermenting while being completely ignored by local investigators from New York and the FBI…..while being watched from afar from the eyes of the CIA.