Veteran Islamist preacher and theorist of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya group, Omar Abdel Rahman, died on Saturday, after 24 years of imprisonment in a US prison.
Abdel Rahman was spending a life-sentence after being accused in 1993 of being involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center.
His family mentioned that he died in prison and that the family is trying to reach an agreement with Egyptian and American authorities to receive the body of their dead relative and bury it in his hometown in Daqahleya.
The death of Abdel Rahman was mourned by different Egyptian Islamist movements. He is considered a leading figure in the Egyptian Islamist movement. The 80-year-old preacher was first arrested in 1970.
He was then released and allowed to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the late 1970s, when he headed Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, the group was guaranteed more freedom and was allowed to practice preaching, student activism, and charity under the reign of former president Anwar Al-Sadat. Omar was arrested in 1981, and the group later participated in the assassination of Al-Sadat.
He was released in 1984 and travelled to the US, where he lived in New Jersey. He was then arrested in 1993 for being involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center.
He was trialed and sentenced to life in prison. Since then, the group and Omar’s family have been advocating for his release.
After it reached power in 2012, the Islamist movement advocated and pushed for his release, to the extent that former President Mohamed Morsi vowed to negotiate the issue.
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya shifted from militancy in 1996 after making ideological revisions and reaching a conclusion to stop considering the state as an enemy. During the 1980s and 1990s, the group entered a bloody conflict with the state, leading to the death of dozens of security forces, citizens, and group members.
After the revision, the group began preaching and performing social works in Upper Egypt and impoverished areas of Cairo and Giza. After the 25 January Revolution, they invaded the political scene through a political party called the Building and Development Party.
They acted as a heavy participant in the Islamist support for Mohamed Morsi before his ouster and months after his removal. However, the group has called for reconciliation and dialogue with the Egyptian state, while acknowledging the difficulty of Morsi’s return.