FBI officials say they sent an advisory to local law enforcement agencies last week, informing them that the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, could be near death. His death, the notice says, might lead to attempts at reprisal.
But today, officials say his condition improved and that he is now stable. They believe his death is no longer imminent. They also say they have no specific intelligence of any actual plan to attack the U.S. in retaliation.
Moreover, senior intelligence community officials tell NBC News that while there have been repeated threats from al-Qaida and other jihadists regarding the sheik -- some going back to 2000 -- they have never acted on them. Most recently, al-Qaida in Iraq called for the kidnapping of westerners who could be held hostage in return for his release.
Rahman was convicted for his role in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and has been serving a life sentence at the Supermax prison in Colorado. He has complained about his treatment in letters, said to have been smuggled out, that were posted on sympathetic Web sites.
He has been in declining health for some time and has been moved on occasion from his regular prison cell to the federal prison medical center in Springfield, Mo., where he's believed to be now.