Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman was the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for terror plots.
Now the federal government is denying reports that the so-called Blind Sheik may be sprung from prison in order to appease Islamist extremists. But the whole controversy is not sitting well with some powerful members of Congress.
Abdel-Rahman, 74, was convicted in 1995 of plotting terrorist acts throughout the city. Even though Abdel-Rahman is on lockdown in a federal prison, Rep. Peter King said his imprisonment was used to incite others on Arabic message board rants in the days leading up to last week's outbreak of violence in the Middle East and North Africa.
King, who heads the Homeland Security Committee, claims that the Obama administration may be considering releasing the Blind Sheik to Egypt. King and other members of Congress wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding an explanation.
"We have not gotten a straight answer. What we get from the State Department is that there is no plan to transfer the Blind Sheik," King said. "They're not saying there's not going to be a plan tomorrow. What does that mean?"
But here is the reply we got from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland: "Let me say this as clearly as I can. There is no plan to release the Blind Sheikh. There is no plan."
But that may not be enough for the Jomeland Security Committee.
King suggested this for putting the issue to rest.
"It's very easy to end this controversy," he said. "All the administration has to do is say clearly and definitively that the Blind Sheik will die in an American prison."
The sheik's brother in Cairo said the release of the terror mastermind would be a good way for the United States to atone for "American arrogance."
King said it would unquestionably leave the United States more vulnerable to attacks.
Riders should anticipate some changes but "near normal" service on the Long Island Rail Road for the morning rush. Crews have been working to repair tracks and switches after Monday's derailment.