One terror ring broken Tough sentences: Sheik Omar gets life in New York bombing conspiracy.

January 27, 1996

TERRORISM will not end in the United States because one ring of ten conspirators was put away for sentences ranging from 25 years to life. But their terrorism will end. Justice was done by federal District Judge Michael B. Mukasey in New York, who sentenced them, and by the jury which last October worked through the evidence and the law of seditious conspiracy to find them guilty.

Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was not exercising free speech or practicing religion when he urged followers to murder and bomb public places as a blow against U.S. support of Egypt's government and Israel. El Sayyid A. Nosair was not responding politically to an extremist when he murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990.

Both were given life sentences. Under federal sentencing guidelines, life means life. They and the eight other defendants sentenced to long terms will be dispersed among prisons.

Prosecution for advocacy remains an uncomfortable concept for Americans. But the evidence, beyond an informer's testimony, included recordings of instructions to commit crimes and videotape of defendants mixing explosives. What this case did not concern was the practice, theology or spiritualism of Islam. Nor was it about opposition to Israel and Egypt.

No pillar of Islam tells adherents to bomb the United Nations or New York tunnels or federal buildings. No one should believe Sheik Omar's rant that the U.S. government is making war on Islam. Nor is Islam making war on the U.S.

Along with convictions in the 1993 New York World Trade Center bombing, this ends a deadly conspiracy that struck terror into the hearts of Americans. But there will be more terror, more conspiracies. These men had nothing to do with the bombing in Oklahoma City last year that took 168 lives. Two native-born white American Christians, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, face trial later this year for that. The nation must defend its people against terrorism from any source for any motive.

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