NEW YORK – An associate of convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman told him in a jailhouse meeting that the USS Cole was bombed to win his release, according to documents posted on a Web site.
The excerpts from a sealed FBI search warrant also depict Abdel-Rahman as joking with his attorney Lynne Stewart and Arabic translator Mohammed Yousry about their role in helping him communicate with his militant supporters.
Filed under seal by Manhattan prosecutors, the documents allege Abdel-Rahman, Stewart and Yousry met last year at a Minnesota prison and discussed the deadly Oct. 12, 2000, attack off Yemen, which killed 17 crew members. Excerpts of the documents were posted Monday by thesmokinggun.com.
Yousry and Stewart were indicted in April on charges they conspired to relay messages from Abdel-Rahman — a blind cleric who led a terrorist organization linked to Al Qaeda — to his radical Islamic followers.
Yousry told Abdel-Rahman that "some people" launched the attack on the Navy destroyer on his behalf, according to an FBI affidavit. The contacts, who were not named, wanted to warn the U.S. government, "If Rahman is not released, we'll execute another operation," Yousry allegedly said.
In a conversation with an unidentified lawyer, Abdel-Rahman described Stewart and Yousry as "doves" who carried messages for him, the affidavit alleges.
Abdel-Rahman, 63, is serving life in prison for his role in a failed 1993 plot to blow up New York City landmarks. He was also considered the spiritual leader of the men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Stewart and Yousry are free on bond pending trial. A third defendant, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, is being held without bail. All have pleaded innocent.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined comment.