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By Richmond Odom  

April 11, 2002 


During much of the decade of the 1980s, Afghanistan was in the throes of an armed military confrontation with the Soviet Army. Russian artillery and bombers pounded the same areas recently occupied by Al Qaida forces, and driven out by the U.S. military. At the time, we were allied with the Afghans and other Islamic mujahideen "freedom fighters" against a common enemy.

During that same time period the CIA maintained a checking account at the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), through which it paid American military personnel to instruct the freedom fighters in the finer points of guerrilla warfare. Most of this training took place in Pakistan.

Like Usama bin Laden's Al Qaida, the mujahideen almost always have a mullah or imam (Muslim cleric), who accompanies them during training, and provides spiritual guidance and support, in addition to leading them in prayer. The mullah in this instance was a blind man known as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, commonly known as "Sheik Omar." If the story had ended there, we would likely have no further interest in Sheik Omar; but it didn't.

Soon after the Afghan-Soviet hostilities ended, the Sheik was placed on the U.S. State Department's list of known or suspected international terrorists (the "Terrorist Watch List"), mainly because U.S. intelligence noted that he had strong ties to the infamous Palestinian terrorist, Abu Nidal -- all of which is even more intriguing when one understands that Abu Nidal funded his terrorist activities with laundered drug money on deposit at BCCI's Sloan Street branch in London. (That's right; it's the same bank the CIA had used.) Omar was also known to have ties to the emerging Al Qaida terrorist network. It is now a known fact that he befriended Usama bin Laden shortly after leaving Pakistan in 1988.

In 1990, at a time when Sheik Omar's name was clearly on the State Department's Watch List, he moved to Sudan, and somehow obtained a Sudanese passport. It is suspected that bin Laden helped him get the passport, as bin Laden was also in Sudan at the time. However, Sheik Omar had never resided in Sudan. He was born in Egypt, and had studied in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he'd never set foot in Sudan prior to obtaining a passport reflecting that he was born there.

Omar took his passport to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. That embassy, like all other U.S. embassies, is operated by the State Department. At that time -- and no one seems to know how this happened -- he applied for and was issued a "B-2" (visitor-for-pleasure) non-immigrant visa, which allowed him to enter the United States, and to remain here for at least 6 months before having to either apply for an extension, or apply for a Green Card (U.S. Permanent Residency). When someone gets his Green Card, he may apply for U.S. Citizenship after waiting 5 years.

In 1991, the Sheik came to America on that B-2 visa. He strolled right through Customs, at JFK, unscathed. (Again, this happened at a time when he was on the State Department's Terrorist Watch List.) He was then chauffeured to a mosque in New Jersey, and began writing sermons for delivery in mosques in New Jersey and Brooklyn. Within a few days, the mosque applied for a Green Card for the Sheik, as a "Minister of Religion."

Sheik Omar's sermons were diatribes, replete with fiery references to "Satan America" and "The American Whore." Americans were "infidels," and Allah had decreed that all infidels should be put to death unless they converted to Islam. Omar was plying his craft well. He was stirring up an Islamic jihad -- a holy war -- against America.

While Omar was inciting his followers to terrorize Americans, a young engineer named Ehmad Salem, was welcomed into the Sheik's inner circle. Unbeknownst to Omar, Salem was an informant for the FBI. Salem reported to his handlers that there were several "cells" of mujahideen, who were ready to blow up landmarks in and around New York City. Among the known targets were the Holland Tunnel, the Statue of Liberty, the New York Stock Exchange, and the World Trade Center. In December 1992, shortly after Sheik Omar's Green Card was approved, Salem warned the FBI that one of the terrorist cells was going to attack one of the chosen targets in early 1993.

On February 26, 1993, a bomb exploded in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. Despite having been forewarned, the FBI apparently couldn't prevent the attack. Sheik Omar was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1995, and sentenced to life in prison. (Maybe the Sheik was just destined to become a permanent U.S. resident one way or the other.)

However, from his prison cell he has continued to direct Islamic terrorist cells in America, and is likely to have played a role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On Tuesday, April 9, 2002, the Sheik's defense lawyer and interpreter were charged with assisting him in issuing fatwahs, or religious directives to U.S.-based mujahideen, to engage in terrorist activities here between 1999 and 2001, from his prison cell in Rochester, Minnesota.

I should add, parenthetically, that BCCI was founded in Luxembourg, in 1972, by a Pakistani banker named Agha Hassan Abedi. Abedi funded BCCI with an initial loan from Bank of America, which then became a BCCI stockholder. Abedi organized BCCI solely for the purpose of funding Islamic terrorism around the world with laundered drug money. The CIA was aware of this -- all of which sort of makes you wonder why it would use BCCI for a payroll checking account in the '80s. I guess it was just convenient. After all, there were probably BCCI branches all over Karachi.

Richmond Odom, All Rights Reserved

Attorney Odom graduated from Louisiana State University, B.A. with honors, 1979. O.W. Coburn School of Law, Oral Roberts University (now Regent University), 1982, J.D.  Served in U.S. Marine Corps, 1972-78. Honorable discharge. Crew chief on CH 46 helicopter.

Licensed to practice by Okla. Supreme Court 1982. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Okla., 1983. U.S. District Court, Western District of Okla., 1984. La. Supreme Court 1986. U.S. District Court, Middle District of La., 1986. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of La., 1988. U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1986. Member, Okla. Bar Assoc. 1982-1991. Member, La. Bar Assoc. 1986-date.

Author of: "New Gods for a New Age",  "Circle of Death: Clinton's Climb to the Presidency" [Huntington House] Sold Out:  His Latest  Book, "A Presidential Legacy" [Due to be published in 2002]. Writes a monthly column: "Baton Rouge Parents Magazine" since 1999.    

Contact: Richmond C. Odom, J.D., Post Office Box 66862, Baton Rouge, LA 70896-6862;  E-Mail:  [email protected]