Shiek accused of plotting to kill thousands in N.Y.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK Prosecutors in the biggest terrorism trial in U.S. history accused Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others of hatching a ''monstrous'' plot to kill thousands of people in a series of bombings in New York.

But by the time the jury began deliberating Saturday, the defense had put the tactics of the nation's top law enforcement agency on trial, accusing the FBI of plotting to frame the defendants to revive its reputation.

''This case is about one of the biggest and most embarrassing moments in the FBI's history,'' defense lawyer John Jacobs told the jury in U.S. District Court.

Abdel-Rahman, a blind, Egyptian religious leader, is charged with leading 14 Muslims in a plot to bomb the United Nations, the FBI's Manhattan offices, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the George Washington Bridge all in a single day.

Three defendants pleaded guilty, a fourth testified for the government and a fifth will be tried later. The remaining 10 defendants, if convicted, face maximum prison sentences ranging from life to 20 years. Deliberations are expected to last about two weeks.

In a note yesterday to U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, the jury indicated a verdict was not imminent. They wanted to take their notebooks to their hotel for today and tomorrow, when no deliberations were scheduled because of religious holidays, but all the lawyers objected.

The sheik, prosecutors say, is a Muslim fundamentalist who saw the United States as Islam's worst enemy. He also is accused of inspiring others to kill Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990, bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 and plan to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a U.S. visit.

Abdel-Rahman's alleged role was giving followers religious sanction to bomb, assassinate and kidnap to persuade the United States to change its Middle East policies.

When the trial began nine months ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami accused the defendants of devising ''a battle plan that was so horrible, so monstrous, so vicious that if it had been successful the lives of every person in this city and in this nation would be changed forever.''

Read Next Article