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memri
February 26, 2013 No.
940

The Online Presence Of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman – The Blind Sheikh: Official Website Hosted in Chicago, Active On YouTube, Twitter, And Facebook

Introduction

Sheikh Dr. Omar Abdel-Rahman, aka 'the Blind Sheikh,' was arrested on July 1, 1993 in Brooklyn, New York and on October 1, 1995 was convicted of seditious conspiracy and solicitation to attack a military installation on Staten Island, and conspiracies to bomb New York landmarks. On January 17, 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison.

A federal jury convicted Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman of planning to wage a "war of urban terrorism" against the United States, including blowing up the United Nations building, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the main federal office building in Manhattan, and the George Washington Bridge.[1]

Recent Al-Qaeda and jihadi propaganda have focused on calls for the release of the Blind Sheikh; among these was a statement by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri released on September 10, 2012, the day prior to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens,[2] and another video by Ayman Al-Zawahiri released on October 24, 2012. [3] In addition, on January 23, 2013, Al-Rudoud Al-Qawiyya L'il Murjia Al-Ghawiyya, a popular Facebook page associated with the Salafi-jihadi movement worldwide, posted a list of the gains reaped by the jihad movement from the attack on the 'Ain Amenas gas installation in Algeria: "Reviving the tenet of al-wala' wal bara' in the souls of the ummah. This was expressed in the brothers' demands during the negotiations with the enemy, such as the demands to release the mujahid sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman."[4]

Official Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman Website, Sheikh-omar.com, Dedicated To Obtaining His Release, Hosted In Chicago

The official website of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, Sheikh-omar.com, was created June 24, 2010, and is hosted in Chicago, IL by SingleHop.[5]


Sheikh-omar.com


Website Includes Section Demanding A Campaign To Release Omar Abdel-Rahman

The site, which is administrated by one of his sons, Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman, provides breaking news and current events from the Middle East, such as the Algerian hostage crisis, as well as recent updates regarding the status of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. It also includes a long list of publications in support of the Blind Sheikh and advocating for his release. On the main page's right sidebar are links to old audio recordings by the Blind Sheikh, as well as articles, various publications, and images of him. The left sidebar features a newsfeed with updates on the most current news stories, and prayers. It also has a link to join the campaign for Sheikh Abdel-Rahman's release; as of this writing, 7,769 have joined.

The website also features a detailed biography of the sheikh, covering his life in Egypt, his educational background, his family, and his arrest in Egypt as well as his arrest, conviction, and imprisonment in the U.S. Comments and prayers from supporters are also posted.

The website incorporates numerous audio/visual features, including audio clips, videos, and dialogues; among them are 25 audio clips of Sheikh Omar Adbel-Rahman praying. Also featured are Sheikh Abdel-Rahman's son calling for his father's release, a vigil in Egypt for his release, and other items, in addition to a speech by the son on liberty and justice.

The website also includes numerous calls for freeing the Blind Sheikh, including by his son and by members of Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, and even the recent call by former Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who offered to exchange American hostages held by his group at the 'Ain Amenas gas plant in Algeria for the sheikh's release. However, it does not include the same demands by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri over the past year; in one of these, Al-Zawahiri said that Al-Qaeda was seeking to kidnap Westerners to be used in any future prisoner exchanges, including for the sheikh.

The website has a members-only section; the login is in the main page's left sidebar.

The website also links to the Blind Sheikh's social media – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – and to The Egyptian Islamic Group. It provides contact information for the site: the email given is [email protected], and the telephone numbers 0020105568678 and 0020118412014.

Official Blind Sheikh YouTube Pages

Thousands of videos of the Blind Sheikh can be found on YouTube, on multiple official pages that are run by his sons.

The "Omar Abdel-Rahman" YouTube account is at Youtube.com/user/OmarAbdelrhman?feature=autoshare. It was launched on August 2, 2011; as of January 15, 2013, this page had eight videos, 46 subscribers, and 14,613 views. Among the videos, which are in Arabic and subtitled in English, are demands for his release, lectures, his call for the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and protests in Egypt for his release. The page's operator is located in Egypt.


Videos on page of Omar Abdel-Rahman


Links on the website to Abdel-Rahman's Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages; the Facebook link is not active.

The YouTube Channel Of The Blind Sheikh's Son Ammar Omar Abdel Rahman

The "Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman" YouTube account, in the name of the Blind Sheikh's son, supports Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman; it is at Youtube.com/user/ammaromarabdelrahman?feature=CAwQwRs%3D. This account was launched on October 12, 2010; as of January 15, 2013, it had 93 videos, 230 subscribers, and 161,855 views. This page too is operated out of Egypt.

Videos include demands for the release of Abdel-Rahman, show Abdel-Rahman's family, and speak of Abdel-Rahman's virtues. The comments on the videos include encouragement for Abdel-Rahman and calls to continue to fight for his mission.

It also includes old videos of him, one of which is about the death of Osama bin Laden. One of the hosts, former grand Mufti of Egypt Nasser Fareed Wasel, said that bin Laden is a martyr because he was killed by the enemies.


Video of a protest in Egypt demanding Abdel-Rahman's release


Link to Ammar's Google Plus and Facebook accounts; Facebook link no longer active

Twitter Account Of Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman, In Support Of 'The Blind Sheikh'

In addition to his YouTube page, Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman one of the sons of the Blind Sheikh, has his own Twitter page that supports his father, which can be found at http://twitter.com/ammar_omar. As of January 15, 2013, there have been 156 Tweets, was following 255 other accounts, and had 80 followers of its own.

The Twitter page shows a picture of Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman and includes a link to the Blind Sheikh's website. It states that the user's location is Cairo.

Of the 100+ Tweets sent out, some include links to Ammar Omar Abdel-Rahman and Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman's YouTube pages, as well as requests to "like" other YouTube pages which support Abdel-Rahman. Taken in its entirety, the Twitter feed solicits support for Abdel-Rahman, calls for prayer, and offers blessings to his followers.

The Blind Sheikh On Facebook

The title of the Facebook page, created on April 23, 2010, devoted to the Blind Sheikh is: "Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman Captive." As of January 15, 2013, the page had 4,674 'likes' and 32 'talking about this'. https://www.facebook.com/pages/الشيخ-الأسير-عمر-عبد-الرحمن/116885748330980?ref=ts&fref=ts


Profile Picture

The Facebook page contains an 'About Omar Abdel-Rahman' section that delves into his childhood, education, political involvement, and incarceration in the United States. There is little activity on Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's wall, from both its operator and fans. Of the posts that exist, most consist of encouragement and calls for his release.

It should be noted that both Amnesty International and Al Jazeera are among the 'likes' on the page.

Among the interactive features of the page are a letter of support for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman by Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, as well as videos featuring lectures by Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and those that support him, and links to videos devoted to him by Al-Qaeda's As-Sahab media production outfit.

One of the videos includes Ayman Al-Zawahiri discussing captives such as the Blind Sheikh: "But the hypocrites know not (63:8). And I pray to Allah to grant victory to the Mujahideen everywhere, and to quickly relieve the suffering of the Muslim captives in America, Egypt, Afghanistan, the Peninsula, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and in America's secret prisons and everywhere else. Foremost among them, the star of the Da'wah and Jihad, our patient garrisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (may Allah free him soon), for whose torture the Americans shall pay dearly, with Allah's permission and help."


Photos of Omar Abdel Rahman

* Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute