On February 26, 1993, the World Trade Center was rocked by a bomb blast. Even though it’s been a quarter of a century, the world still remembers the horrific bombing, the people who lost their lives, and the thousands who were injured. If you want to know more about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, then keep on reading.
If you think 9/11 was the first time the World Trade Center was attacked, then you are mistaken. Today is the 25th anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and many people are curious to know more about what happened back then.
When Was the World Trade Center Built?
Originally, the World Trade Center was a complex of seven buildings located in Lower Manhattan, New York City. When the Twin Towers were completed in 1973, they were deemed the tallest buildings in the world.
Planning of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot started when the two main conspirators, Ramzi Yousef and Ahmad Ajaj, came to the United States from Pakistan in 1992.
Ajaj entered the country with a false Swedish passport, for which he was detained. Customs agents seized his suitcase, which contained bombing manuals and anti-American propaganda.
Yousef was traveling on an Iraqi passport and he requested political asylum. Initially, he was arrested for coming to the U.S. without any visa, but he was later released and allowed into the country. With Ajaj in jail, Yousef started coming up with the plan to destroy the Twin Towers.
To implement his plans, Yousef moved into a rented room in Jersey City, New Jersey with another conspirator named Mohammad Salameh.
Reportedly, the conspirators bought bomb-making materials and kept them in a locker that was rented by Salameh. To further pursue their plan, on January 1, 1993, Salameh also rented a garage apartment in Jersey City to use as a bomb factory.
In the next several weeks, the group managed to put together a 1,500-pound bomb. Days before the bombing took place, Yousef called a man named Eyad Ismoil to New York.
On February 23, 1993, Salameh rented a van, which he reported stolen two days later to create an alibi. In order to magnify the explosion, the men bought many tanks of hydrogen gas and kept them in the van with the bomb.
The Day of the Attack
On the morning of February 26, Mahmud Abouhalima, another associate, filled the gas tanks of the rented van and his car. Then Salameh, Ismoil, Yousef, and Abouhalima went to Lower Manhattan.
The van with the bomb was left in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. At around 12:18 p.m. the bomb detonated, opening a blast crater that was six stories deep and 200 feet wide. The explosion caused the PATH station ceiling to fall.
The bombers’ intention was to have the North Tower crash into the South Tower, bringing them both down and killing thousands of people. However, the bomb was not powerful enough to create such damage.
Hours after the bombing, Salameh paid a visit to the rental agency to get his deposit for the reportedly stolen van. He was told to return later. Yousef flew to Karachi, Pakistan and Ismoil went to Jordan.
Who Was the Mastermind Behind the Bombing?
Initial suspects included Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but in truth Yousef was the mastermind who supervised and executed the bombing. His motive was vengeance for the U.S.’s ongoing support of Israel against Palestine.
The attack was planned and implemented by Yousef, Salameh, Ajaj, Abouhalima, Ismoil, Nidal A. Ayyad, and Abdul Rahman Yasin. Yousef’s uncle, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, backed them financially.
How Many People Died?
Ultimately, six people died in the attack and over 1,000 others were injured. Those who died were John DiGiovanni, Robert “Bob” Kirkpatrick, Stephen Knapp, Bill Macko, Wilfredo Mercado, and Monica Rodriguez Smith, who was seven months pregnant at the time.
Arrest of the Perpetrators
After the attack, the FBI found a mangled piece of the van that had contained the bomb. It bore the vehicle identification number, which led investigators to the vehicle rental agency in Jersey City.
On March 4, 1993, when Salameh returned to the rental agency to again claim his deposit on the van, he was arrested by the FBI. On March 10, Ayyad was arrested in New Jersey and Abouhalima was arrested in Egypt.
On March 4, 1994, after a long trial, Salameh, Abouhalima, Ayyad, and Ajaj were convicted and sentenced to 240 years in prison each.
Yousef and Ismoil were captured in 1995 and tried and convicted in 1997. Yasin’s whereabouts remain unknown.