A group of House Republican chairmen wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder today to protest any deal that might free the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman to Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons.
The lawmakers called recent reports that the inspiration behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing could be released in a goodwill gesture to Cairo. He is currently serving a life sentence behind bars.
“Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength,” the chairmen wrote. “…The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.”
Signing the letter were Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Homeland Security Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.), Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and Appropriations subcommittee chairmen Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas).
“Let me say as clearly as I can, there is no plan to release the Blind Sheikh – there is no plan,” State Department Victoria Nuland said today. “To my knowledge we have not been approached about it recently by any senior Egyptians.”
The House chairman requested a briefing this week with representatives of each department to address the reports and the status of negotiations with Egypt. Congress recesses for the campaign season at the end of this week.