The son of the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group who is in a US jail for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, was killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan, according to a statement released today by the terror group.
The Egyptian Islamic Group announced that Ahmed Omar Abdul Rahman, who is also known as Saif, “was killed in an American air bombing from an unmanned plane on the frontlines in Afghanistan,” according to a brief statement that was released on the terror group’s website. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Egyptian Islamic Group said Ahmed was killed today, but did not state where in Afghanistan he was killed. Ahmed’s role in the Egyptian Islamic Group was not disclosed.
The International Security Assistance Force could not confirm the report of Ahmed’s death. “We have no operational reporting of this event,” an ISAF spokesman told The Long War Journal.
Ahmed is the son of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, or the Blind Sheikh, who is currently serving a life sentence in a US federal prison for his role in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 that killed six Americans. Al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed financed the operation, and several al Qaeda operatives, including Ramzi Yousef, carried out the attack. The terror group detonated a large truck bomb in the basement of the building with the intent of bringing the North tower crashing down onto the South Tower. Eight years later, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed succeeded in bringing down both buildings by orchestrating the ramming of airplanes into the Twin Towers during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The Blind Sheikh took control of the Egyptian Islamic Group in the 1980s but maintained close ties to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was led by Ayman al Zawahiri, now the head of al Qaeda. The Blind Sheikh issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that justified the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was killed by members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981. He spent several years in prison but was never convicted for his role in the murder of Sadat.
In the 1980s, the Blind Sheikh moved to Afghanistan to aid in the fighting against the Soviet Union. He maintained close ties with Zawahiri and al Qaeda founders Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, he moved to New York City, where he preached jihad while plotting to conduct attacks in the US. He was able to move to the US despite being on a terrorist watch list.
Several of his sons fought in Afghanistan and developed close ties to al Qaeda.
“Dr. Omar [the Blind Sheikh] had sent a number of his sons to the Afghan Jihad in the days of the Russian occupation, and all of them returned with the exception of Ahmed, who was killed today,” the Egyptian Islamic Group said in today’s statement.
Two other sons of the Blind Sheikh are known to have developed close ties to al Qaeda. He is known to have at least seven sons.
One son, Asim Abdul Rahman, who is also known as Abu Asim, is reported to have signed onto al Qaeda’s International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders back in 1998. He is also rumored to have been granted citizenship by the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, although this has not been confirmed.
Another son, Mohammed Omar Abdul Rahman, was captured in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2003, and is currently in US custody. He “ran a training camp in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks and also had a role in operational planning,” according to The Associated Press. “He is considered a senior Al Qaeda operative, one of several operations chiefs who rank one tier below [Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed in the al Qaeda hierarchy.”
Ahmed is the latest Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader killed in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.
On Oct. 31, 2008, Mohammad Khalil Hasan al Hakaymah, who is also known as Abu Jihad al Masri, was killed in a US Predator airstrike in the town of Mir Ali in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Abu Jihad was a senior member of al Qaeda. He merged the Egyptian Islamic Group with al Qaeda and served as the faction’s leader; this made him a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or senior council. He also served as the chief of al Qaeda’s intelligence branch and directed al Qaeda’s intelligence shura; and he directed external operations, largely in Egypt. Additionally, he was a prolific writer and a major ideologue for the terror group. The US government had $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Abu Jihad.
Sometime in early 2011, Osama Hassan, whose sister, Omayma, is married to Zawahiri, was killed in Afghanistan, according to a martyrdom statement released by the Al Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, an Egyptian Islamic Jihad front group. Hassan’s exact role in the Egyptian Islamic Group is not known, but he is believed to have been a key link in convincing the external faction of the organization to join al Qaeda.
Also, sometime in late 2001 after the US invasion, Tariq Anwar Sayyid Ahmad, who was described as the “Commander of Special Operations for the [Egyptian Islamic] Jihad group,” was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan. Tariq was married to Omayma, Hassan’s sister, who is now married to Zawahiri.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.