A sit-in at the American embassy in Cairo Sunday, the anniversary of 9/11, demanded freedom for a Muslim sheikh serving life in prison for plotting to blow up the World Trade Center (WTC) in 1993 with a massive truck bomb.
The approximately 100 Muslim demonstrators also called for Islamic “Sharia” rule in Egypt as well as the release of 73-year-old Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the "Blind Sheikh," for plotting to blow up the WTC nine years before the two Al Qaeda aerial suicide attacks that toppled the towers and killed more than 2,500 people.
He suffers from diabetes and previously has refused insulin and ate chocolate candies, actions that authorities said were intended to cause his death so American officials could be blamed for mistreatment.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was the prosecutor in Abdel-Rahman's 1995 trial, testified he thought the sheikh "was going to play with his medical condition" because he knew the U.S. government would be blamed. Presumably, his followers would call for revenge.
His son Mohammed has blamed his arrest on ties between ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the United States. He said, "He's arrested for being an Islamist and for speaking out about corruption and oppression under Mubarak," the Associated Press reported.
The sit-in took place near the gates of the U.S. embassy two days after thousands of rioters tore down the concrete barrier at the Israeli embassy and nearly lynched six Israeli guards inside the compound.
The sit-in organizers included many members of the “Islamic Group,” known in Egypt as Gamaa Islamiya, which battled the Mubarak regime in a failed bloody rebellion in the 1990s.
Although they protested without a permit, Egyptian police did not intervene.
One day before the protest, American officials issued an emergency message warning of potential for continued demonstrations in Cairo.