Biden Takes Blind Sheikh’s Terror Group Off Terror List

Biden administration wants to befriend terror group linked to World Trade Center bombing.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

In 1993, the United States finally arrested Omar Abdel-Rahman, popularly known as the Blind Sheikh, the religious leader of the Egyptian Jihadist group Gamaat Islamiya after three years during which his followers bombed the World Trade Center and plotted to bomb the Statue of Liberty and a range of targets all across New York City.

The Biden administration has now announced that it’s taking Gamaat Islamiya off the terror list.

During the original Jihad in New York, an undercover informant described meetings to case potential targets in which a member of the terror cell told him, “Stand here, brother, let me take your picture with the Statue of Liberty because it will not exist anymore" and "Brother, let me take your picture with the World Trade Center because it will not be here anymore".

“The Jews and Christians are the ones that are fighting every Muslim resurrection,” the imprisoned sheikh later urged, “Oh, Muslims everywhere! Cut the transportation of their countries, tear it apart, destroy their economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air, or land.”

Throughout the 90s, Gamaat Islamiya continued engaging in terrorist attacks. In 1997, the Islamic terrorist group carried out its ugliest atrocity in Luxor, Egypt, where European and Japanese tourists were mutilated and disemboweled. Among the horrors, the marauders cut off the ears and noses of several of their victims. A note praising Islam was found inside one disemboweled body. Among the victims was 5-year-old Shaunnah Turner: a little British girl.

The massacre had been funded by Al Qaeda which was allied with Gamaat Islamiya.

After September 11, Gamaat Islamiya was divided between two Jihadist pathways, that of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which had Egyptian origins. In 2006, some leaders of Gamaat Islamiya announced that the terror group was merging with Al Qaeda. But under Obama, the Muslim Brotherhood forced out Mubarak, one of Gamaat Islamiya’s targets, and the Blind Sheikh’s terror group joined the Brotherhood in reinventing itself as a political party.

In 2011, the terror group relaunched as the Building and Development Party and was welcomed by the Obama administration. Even though Gamaat Islamiya was still on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, one of its political figures, Hani Nour Eldin, not only received a visa to enter the United States, but was also able to meet with senior Obama administration officials including then Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough.

"Abdel Rahman’s ordeal in America has been very severe," Eldin complained. "I was encouraged that I was able to raise the issue with the Deputy National Security Advisor in America."

Obama’s State Department reportedly even considered freeing the Blind Sheikh.

Instead the Blind Sheikh died in prison, but the United States, bizarrely, allowed his body to be transferred back to Egypt when he received a hero's funeral.

"Don’t let the Americans enjoy safety and security. Kill them, keep a watch on them and plant the fear in their hearts. Seek vengeance for your sheikh," Al Qaeda declared.

When the Obama administration brought Eldin to America, Gamaat Islamiya’s presence on the list of terrorist organizations had been awkward. Now the awkwardness has been resolved.

The Biden administration has chosen to remove Gamaat Islamiya from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The official reason for the move is that the terror group is “defunct”. But Gamaat Islamiya isn’t defunct, it just morphed into an Islamist political party that the Obama and Biden administrations want to see ruling over Egypt alongside the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Building and Development Party has never disavowed its own atrocities and continues treating the Blind Sheikh as a role model. It was banned by the Egyptian government during the wave of terror that followed the popular overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

Indeed, the State Department's latest human rights report on Egypt complains about the ban on the Islamist party. Previously, the Egyptians could have retorted that the party had been listed as a terror group by the United States. Biden has conveniently removed that argument.

Under pressure from the Biden administration, Egypt's President Sisi has called for "a national political dialogue with all forces without exception or discrimination." Egypt has been freeing imprisoned members of the Muslim Brotherhood even as the country’s courts continue sentencing other Brotherhood members to death for their role in the violence.

Tarek al-Zumar, the head of Gamaat Islamiya's Building and Development Party, has welcomed the prospect of being legalized again.

Secretary of State Blinken justified the decision to delist Gamaat Islamiya by claiming that "the circumstances that were the basis for the designation ... have changed in such a manner to warrant revocation of the designation". The change in question is entirely political.

The State Department did not remove Gamaat Islamiya from the terror list because it was defunct. Just the opposite. It’s been removed from the terror list because the Biden administration expects it to be active again. And wants to be able to provide support for it.

What might that look like?

Tarek al-Zuma, like many Islamist terror leaders, is hiding out in Qatar. Egypt had accused Zumar of playing a role in ISIS terrorist attacks in the Sinai. After his initial release from prison, he defended Al Qaeda terrorism as a response to “extreme provocations” by the West.

"The whole Al-Qaeda issue has been blown out of proportion internationally. Do the mistakes made by Al-Qaeda over the past 12 or 15 years equal one-billionth of the mistakes and crimes perpetrated by the US and Britain against the Arab and Islamic nation?" he argued in another interview.

His cousin, another major movement figure, who had served time in prison with Ayman al-Zawahiri, described the head of Al Qaeda as a “man who loves his religion and justice.”

“Bin Laden will become a symbol of resistance to occupation," Tarek Al-Zumar ranted after the Al Qaeda leader's death. "The U.S. killing of bin Laden will undoubtedly galvanize reaction and retaliation attempts.”

This is what Biden’s decision to remove Gamaat Islamiya from the terror list is whitewashing.

Gamaat Islamiya is not defunct. It has longstanding ties to Al Qaeda and now ISIS, even while its political arm seeks power by copying the Muslim Brotherhood’s political strategy.

The Biden administration wants another Arab Spring in Egypt and it hopes that Al-Zumar and other Gamaat Islamiya Jihadists will help restore its Islamist allies to power. It’s embracing  Tarek Al-Zumar, the author of such key Jihadist tracts as, "Our Struggle With the Jews is a Resolved Struggle" and "Bonds of Jihad" to pave the way for supporting his new Jihad.

The delisting of Gamaat Islamiya betrays those seven Americans, born and unborn,who were killed during the original World Trade Center bombing as well as every innocent victim murdered by the terror group and its allies.

Biden's treasonous actions disrespect the memories of American men and women like John DiGiovanni, a sales manager, who was parking his car when the bomb in the World Trade Center went off, Stephen Knapp, a father of two on his lunch break, and Monica Rodriguez Smith, who was seven months pregnant and was on her last day of work before taking maternity leave.

And above all else, Biden has once again betrayed America.

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