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FBI warned cleric's death could prompt attacks

Omar Abdel-Rahman is seen in this 1993 file photo taken in New York. Rahman, a blind fundamentalist Muslim cleric imprisoned for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks, was rushed to a hospital last week, prompting an FBI warning that his death could lead to attacks on the United States, law enforcement officials said on Thursday. REUTERS/Evy Mages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind fundamentalist Muslim cleric imprisoned for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks, was rushed to a hospital last week, prompting an FBI warning that his death could lead to attacks on the United States, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

They said the FBI’s week-old bulletin had been sent to state and local law enforcement officials out of an abundance of caution and that there was no specific intelligence about any impending attack.

The officials said the medical condition of the 68-year-old Rahman had subsequently improved, that he had been released from the hospital, that he now is in stable condition and back in a federal prison medical facility.

According to the bulletin, Rahman began to spit up blood on December 6 and was taken from the prison to the emergency room at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where doctors discovered a tumor on his liver, the officials said.

The Egyptian sheikh, who was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison, is currently at a medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield. He has long suffered from a number of medical problems, including diabetes and heart ailments.

The bulletin noted that in the past Rahman has called upon his supporters to commit acts of violence against the United States if he died in a U.S. prison, the officials said.

In New York, Paul Browne, the police deputy commissioner for public information, said, “The FBI shared its assessment with the New York City Police Department. New York City remains on the same heightened alert status, as it has since 9/11.”

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