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Report: Alleged bomb plotters wanted to free militants

August 5, 1997
Web posted at: 11:08 a.m. EDT (1508 GMT)
Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Media reports suggested Tuesday that one of the men charged in connection with last week's subway bombing plot in Brooklyn wrote a note demanding the release of Muslim militants.

The television and newspaper reports Tuesday quoted unidentified law enforcement officials as saying the note demanded the release of six people, including Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for conspiracy to blow up New York landmarks.

The note also called for the release of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the man being tried for allegedly masterminding the World Trade Center bombing, and of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a spiritual leader of the Hamas movement being held in Israel.

The note reportedly threatened a number of suicide bombings, should the demands not be met.

Investigators reportedly found the note in a Brooklyn apartment occupied by Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, 23, and Lafi Khalil, 22, hours after they were captured in a predawn raid Thursday.

Authorities say police were tipped off by a third man, who told a railroad policeman his roommates were making bombs to attack the subway.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Monday that the raid itself could have left scores dead if one of the suspects had managed to trigger a bomb at his bedside.

The man tripped one of four switches but was shot before he could flip the other three, the mayor said.

The bomb, he said, probably would have killed eight police officers in the building and many other people in the area, even though about 90 people had been evacuated from nearby buildings.

The suspects, who were wounded in a shootout with police when they were arrested, are under heavy FBI guard at Kings County Hospital Center.

The men were arraigned on charges of plotting to bomb a New York subway station and other targets.

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