- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Four persons, including a Manhattan civil rights lawyer, were indicted yesterday on charges of illegally passing information to and from Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the imprisoned blind leader of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization known as the "Islamic Group."
The indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury in New York, accused attorney Lynne Stewart, who represents Abdel-Rahman; Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic language interpreter; Ahmed Abdel Sattar, an active Islamic Group leader; and Yassir Al-Sirri, imprisoned former head of the London-based Islamic Observation Center.
The indictment said the four worked in concert with Abdel-Rahman in violation of what the Justice Department said were "special administrative measures" that restrict his communications to provide material support and resources to the Islamic Group.
"The terrorist movement at the center of the facts alleged in this indictment, the Islamic Group, has as its credo a message of hate that is now tragically familiar to Americans: to oppose by whatever means necessary the nations, governments and individuals who do not share its radical interpretation of Islamic law," Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
"The Islamic Group is a global terrorist organization that has forged alliances with other terrorist groups, including al Qaeda," he said. "It has an active membership in the United States, concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area."
Mr. Ashcroft said Abdel-Rahman directed the terrorist operations of the Islamic Group, defined its goals and recruited its membership in the United States.
The attorney general also said the Justice Department will monitor conversations between Abdel-Rahman and his lawyers, the first use of the USA Patriot Act after September 11 that allows the monitoring of the attorney-client communications of federal inmates suspected of facilitating acts of terrorism.
In announcing the indictments during a New York press conference, Mr. Ashcroft said Abdel-Rahman used communications with Miss Stewart, translated by Mr. Yousry, to pass messages to and receive messages from Sattar, Al-Sirri and other Islamic Group members.
He said Miss Stewart had signed an affirmation acknowledging that she would abide by court-ordered restrictions in Abdel-Rahman's contacts with the outside world and that she would be accompanied by translators only to communicate with him regarding legal matters.
Mr. Ashcroft said the four defendants "repeatedly and willfully violated" the restriction orders in an effort to "maintain Sheik Abdel Rahman's influence over the terrorist activities of the Islamic Group."
He noted that in one instance, Abdel-Rahman read letters from Sattar regarding whether the Islamic Group should continue to comply with a cease-fire in terrorist activities against Egyptian authorities after the shooting and stabbing of 58 tourists and four Egyptians in Luxor, Egypt, in 1997 a terrorist attack for which the Islamic Group claimed credit.
Mr. Ashcroft also said Sattar informed Miss Stewart that prison administrators had pleaded with Abdel-Rahman's wife to tell him to take his medicine. He said the indictment charges that although they knew Abdel-Rahman was voluntarily refusing to take insulin for his diabetes, Sattar and Miss Stewart agreed to issue a public statement falsely contending that Abdel-Rahman was being denied medical treatment.
Mr. Ashcroft said the indictment charges that Miss Stewart stated that this misrepresentation was "safe" because no one on the "outside" would know the truth.
Mr. Ashcroft also said Miss Stewart took "affirmative steps to conceal" her conversations with Abdel-Rahman from prison guards, making extraneous comments in English to mask the Arabic conversation between Abdel-Rahman and Mr. Yousry.
Prosecutors said the defendants wanted to use urban terrorism to pressure the United States into curbing support for Middle East nations that opposed Abdel-Rahman's extremist brand of Islam.
Abdel-Rahman, 63, the blind founder of the Islamic Group, is serving a life sentence for conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and to blow up five New York City landmarks in the 1990s.
He was among 10 defendants convicted by a Manhattan jury in 1995 of seditious conspiracy in a plot to bomb the United Nations, FBI headquarters in Manhattan, two tunnels and a bridge connecting New Jersey and New York.
The conspiracy eventually led to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Miss Stewart was Abdel-Rahman's attorney during his 1995 trial.
Yesterday's indictment charges that the unlawful communications with Abdel-Rahman were passed on to others and occurred during prison visits and during attorney telephone calls involving Miss Stewart and Mr. Yousry.
It also said the sheik issued an edict in October 2000 titled "Fatwah Mandating the Bloodshed of Israelis Everywhere," which called on "brother scholars everywhere in the Muslim world to do their part and issue a unanimous fatwah [edict] that urges the Muslim nation to fight the Jews and kill them wherever they are."
Miss Stewart was taken into custody at her lower Manhattan office by federal agents armed with search and arrest warrants at about 11:30 a.m. yesterday.
The office later was locked, and New York City police stood guard outside.

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