The 279 firefighters who graduated from the New York City fire department's academy last month include the son of a firefighter killed on 9/11 — and the son of a terrorist.
Rookie firefighter Omar Ahmed Sattar, 30, is the eldest son of Ahmed Abdel Sattar, who was convicted in 2005 of “soliciting crimes of violence” and conspiracy to murder Jews.
The elder Sattar, now 58, was a seemingly mild-mannered postal-service worker raising his family in Staten Island. Behind his peaceful facade, the court found, he was an Islamist extremist who used his home as a communications hub to further the schemes of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Muslim cleric who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six, as well as failed plots to blow up other New York City buildings and tunnels.
Ahmed Sattar, also known as Abu Omar and Dr. Ahmed, was tried along with Rahman’s radical defense lawyer, Lynne Stewart, and another accused terrorist, Mohammed Yousry.
According to federal charges, he and a co-conspirator in 2000 published a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, in Rahman’s name, calling for the killing of Jewish civilians.
He and cohorts also tried to use the Oct. 12, 2000, al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 US sailors, to extort the US into freeing Rahman from prison, court papers say.
A Web site set up in Ahmed Sattar’s defense, ahmedabdelsattar.org, says that the Egyptian immigrant had “deep roots in America” and that he studied the Quran and “became an opponent of the murderous Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt.”
It says Ahmed Sattar “lived a clean life” and blames the charges against him on “a witch hunt” by New York “Zionists.”
In a letter to the sentencing judge, Omar, then an 18-year-old student at the College of Staten Island, begged for leniency.
“I know that he did not commit any crimes or plan to. I feel that an injustice has been done. My father is a man of honesty and kindness, he wouldn’t attempt to hurt any one or even think about it,” Omar wrote.
“Yes, he has views, like so many people, but his views were just that and nothing more.”
Omar, who has two younger brothers and a sister, said his father raised his kids well.
“Most importantly, he wanted us to be good children and then grow up to be better adults,” he wrote. “I will forever hold his lessons in my heart, and I thank god every day for the father I have.”
Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl sentenced Ahmed Sattar to 24 years in prison. He is serving time in the federal penitentiary in Marion, Ill., which once held Mafia godfather John Gotti.
A dream come true
In a statement to The Post, the young fireman did not mention his father, but described how his new job is a dream come true.
“This is what I have always wanted to do. This is who I have always wanted to be. I have always admired firefighters,” he said.
"This is what I have always wanted to do. This is who I have always wanted to be. I have always admired firefighters."
He recalled when, as an 8-year-old, he came home from school to find his family standing outside their charred apartment, heartbroken over the fate of their missing cat, Tootsie.
“One of the firefighters standing in the street overheard, walked over and asked who was missing,” Sattar recalled.
“My mother replied, ‘Our cat,’ and he went up and found her hiding under a bed and brought her down,” he said.
“I remember being impressed and in awe of what just happened. … I respect FDNY members, and I am humbled to have this opportunity to be a part of this incredible Department. The FDNY is a family that always supports each other, and now I am living it. It means the world to me to be here. When I look back on my career as a firefighter, I want to know that I did the best I could with the opportunity I was given.”
Omar’s mother, Lisa, defended her husband online as “a man with morals and values.” She also complained that Omar and a brother were victims of illegal discrimination when the owner of a local restaurant fired them as busboys in July 2004.
“My son Omar decided to go straight to the boss and ask him to his face why they were fired,” she wrote. “Well, the truth came out in front of customers and other employees: ‘My wife died on 9-11, every time I look at you I think of my wife and I don’t want you working here!’ ”
Lisa Sattar, along with her three other adult children, attended “family day” at the FDNY Academy on Randalls Island last month. She posted a Facebook photo of Omar in his FDNY jacket marked “SATTAR.”
On graduation day, she posted photos of Omar accepting his probationary firefighter certificate from Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and holding it up.
“I am so proud of you my son. May Allah bless you and keep you safe,” she wrote.
Another graduate, another father
Also graduating that day was John Palombo, whose firefighter dad, Frank, was killed in the World Trade Center terror attacks that claimed 343 Bravest on Sept. 11, 2001. Last year, John’s brother Thomas also joined the FDNY.
The department assigned Sattar to Engine Co. 282 in Borough Park, a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.
An FDNY spokesman would not say whether the department knew of the elder Sattar’s criminal record when it hired the son.
“All individuals — prior to appointment as a firefighter — must pass a comprehensive background check,” said the spokesman, Frank Dwyer.
Officials noted that Omar Sattar worked for the city Sanitation Department for three years before joining the FDNY.
Several FDNY employees who learned of Sattar’s family history are concerned, saying uniformed firefighters have virtually free access to hospitals, crime scenes and other official areas.
Others were incredulous.
“They should hire Osama bin Laden’s son and put him in the same firehouse,” one cracked.
Another recalled Kevin Shea, a firefighter with Manhattan’s Rescue Co. 1, who raced to the 1993 WTC bombing. While trying to reach a victim, Shea fell 45 feet into a pile of rubble, breaking bones. His leather helmet was credited with saving his life. Shea later searched for survivors at Ground Zero.
“If he passed the background check, we can’t hold him accountable for the sins of the father. You gotta give this kid a fair shot."
But Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said sons or daughters of criminals can, and do, serve with distinction.
“This will probably be the first time we’ve hired someone with a family history of terrorism,” Giacalone said.
But he added, “If he passed the background check, we can’t hold him accountable for the sins of the father. You gotta give this kid a fair shot.”
Said FDNY spokesman Jim Long, “Omar Sattar will be judged on the merits of Omar Sattar.”