WASHINGTON - As the US marks the 20th anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in which six people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured, an FBI informant is urging the country to keep the ailing 74-year-old "blind sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman behind bars.
Emad Salem came out of witness protection to tell NBC 4 New York that Rahman, who was convicted after the 1993 attack of plotting to bomb several New York City
landmarks, "will kill Americans" if he is released.
"He will kill anyone who disputes what he says with a fatwa," the informant warned.
The informant spoke after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi
had repeatedly asked his American counterpart Barack Obama
to transfer Rahman to an Egyptian prison due to his deteriorating health.
Morsi and other Mideast leaders will step up their pressure to get Rahman out of American custody during the Egyptian leader's scheduled visit to Washington
next month. Salem, a former officer in the Egyptian army, warned that Rahman remains a significant threat to the US. The "blind sheikh" welcomed Morsi's election as president of Egypt,
calling it a "victory for Islam." Rahman is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison.
Scene of 1993 World Trade Center attack
According to NBC 4 New York, Salem had warned officials about the looming 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but his warnings were ignored after a lie detector test was inconclusive and he said he would never testify at any trial.
After the bombing, Salem agreed to become an FBI informant and managed to become the sheikh's personal assistant and bodyguard. Salem was able to record the sheikh ordering the killing of Americans during his time in Jersey City and Brooklyn.
He was also able to link the sheikh to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, NBC 4 New York said in its report.
Rahman is a source of inspiration for radical Islamists, including al-Qaeda terrorists, all over the world. Members of his family wrote on their website that "America will pay a terrible price" if it refuses to release him.