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The Blind Sheikh,' spiritual leader to Islamic radicals, dies in prison

An Egyptian follower of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric jailed in the United States for planning a campaign of bombings, flashes his poster outside police academy court in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Sept.11, 2011 in support to anti-Mubarak supporters where Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, his security chief Habib el-Adly and six top police officers face a session of trial, on charges they ordered the use of lethal force against protesters during Egypt's 18-day uprising killing 850 protesters were killed. Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler and one-time confidant of Hosni Mubarak, has failed to attend a court session in which he was expected to offer highly anticipated testimony about the former president's alleged role in the death of protesters. Arabic read " Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman" . (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Omar Ahmad Rahman, otherwise known as "The Blind Sheikh" who orchestrated the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, died in prison Saturday at the age of 78.

Rahman, an Egyptian, was blind since birth due to complications from diabetes. He was 20 years into a life sentence for “seditious conspiracy," given to him for planning to blow up New York landmarks such as the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. He had served the last seven years of his sentence at the Federal Correction Complex in Butner, North Carolina, where he died. He had continued to suffer from diabetes and coronary artery disease, said a spokesman for the prison complex.

Rahman, who was primarily known by his nickname "The Blind Sheikh," was notorious for his suspected link to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, of which he was never convicted. He later served as a spiritual leader to Islamic militants and became a symbol for radicals, reports CBS News.

He was the leader of Egypt’s Gamaa Islamiya, a militant group that focused their violence on ex-President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak. In 1990, he fled to the U.S. and began teaching in a mosque in New Jersey, where many believe the small group of radicals who truck-bombed New York's World Trade Center were given spiritual guidance. Eight years later, Al Qaeda would successfully topple the towers on September 11, 2001.

Rahman was arrested in late 1993 for conspiring to bomb major New York landmarks. He has, during his imprisonment, been considered largely a symbol, although he did have a long time association with Ayman al-Zawahri, now a leader of al Qaeda, according to CBS News.

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