Bachmann-Clinton Showdown over Blind Sheikh
By Matthew Vadum
In a dramatic confrontation with a conservative lawmaker on Capitol Hill yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flatly denied that the Obama administration is planning to send the 1993 World Trade Center bomber back to Egypt.
The face-off between Clinton and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) came after The Blaze news website started a firestorm Monday by reporting that a source close to the Obama administration said the Department of State was contemplating returning the “Blind Sheikh,” convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, to his homeland “for humanitarian and health reasons.” The embattled Obama administration is currently in full-time damage control mode as the president’s foreign policy aimed at appeasing totalitarian Islamic theocrats collapses.
As FrontPage Magazine exclusively reported earlier this week, Abdel-Rahman’s terrorist group, Jamaa Islamiya, helped to foment last week’s deadly violence against U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya.
During a bipartisan closed-door briefing for House members on developments in the Middle East, Clinton was questioned pointedly by Bachmann, who asked if the administration intends to repatriate Abdel-Rahman, a highly placed congressional source told this writer.
Frustrated after the Department of State refused for days to confirm or deny reports about a possible transfer of the Blind Sheikh to Egyptian custody, Bachmann wanted to get Clinton on the record on the issue in front of House members. In an environment described by the source as “tense,” the lawmaker asked Clinton if anyone in any department or agency in the federal government was negotiating, corresponding, or in any way moving forward with plans to expel the terrorist from the United States.
“No,” was Clinton’s terse reply.
Later the same day Clinton gave another classified briefing to members of the Senate. Senators complained that Clinton stonewalled their requests for new information about the attack last week on the U.S. consulate in Libya that claimed the lives of four Americans including the U.S. ambassador.
“That was the most useless, worthless briefing that I have attended in a long time,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “Believe me, there is more written in every major and minor publication in America about what happened.”
Despite Clinton’s denial, evidence continues to mount that the Obama administration is seriously considering handing over the ailing 74-year-old Blind Sheikh to the Egyptian government. Diabetic since childhood, Abdel-Rahman was formerly a guest of the federal Supermax prison in Colorado. Today he resides in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.
More proof of secret State Department negotiations came yesterday in the pages of the New York Post. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and an unnamed Obama administration source confirmed that the government is considering sending the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing back to Egypt where he is now a revered figure for attacking the U.S.
King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers.
Releasing “Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President,” King wrote.
“While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events. The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.”
The letter was signed by other House leaders including Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), and Armed Services Committee chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.).
The new Muslim Brotherhood-backed president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, considers Abdel-Rahman to be a U.S. political prisoner, and has asked the Obama administration to release him. The Arabic language newspaper al-Arabiya reported more than six months ago that the Obama administration offered to send Abdel-Rahman to Egypt as part of a prisoner swap. Called the “Emir of Jihad” by some, Abdel-Rahman is a spiritual leader to al Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups.
Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution team that put Abdel-Rahman behind bars, is worried about the Obama administration’s intentions. “There’s no way to believe anything they say,” he said. “I believe there may already be a nod-and-wink agreement in place.”
On September 10, the day before terrorists assaulted the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Abdel-Rahman’s terrorist organization demanded the release of the Blind Sheikh and all detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His group, Jamaa Islamiya (also known as al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya or, in English, Islamic Group), works closely with al Qaeda, the group that ultimately succeeded in incinerating New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. At least two of the other groups that demanded Abdel-Rahman’s release — Islamic Jihad and the Sunni Group— also have al Qaeda ties.