A group of House Republican Chairmen today expressed concern about reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the "blind sheikh," to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Chairmen made clear that Abdel-Rahman, who inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, should not be released to Egypt for any reason but should remain in federal prison.
The report about the possible removal of Abdel-Rahman comes a week after the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya during which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Anti-American protests have spread throughout the Middle East, including Egypt where protestors stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government's demands for the blind sheikh's release.
"Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength," the Chairmen wrote. "The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is -- a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith was joined in sending the letter by the Committee Chairmen who oversee foreign affairs and national security issues, including:
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen;
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers;
House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon;
House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Peter King;
House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers;
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.