26 February 2008

15 Years Ago, The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

On February 26, 1993 a car bomb was detonated below Tower One of the World Trade Center. The 1,500 pound urea nitrate-fuel oil device was intended to knock the North Tower into Tower Two, bringing both towers down and killing up to 250,000 people. It failed to do so, but did kill six people and injured over a thousand.

The attack was planned by a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmad Ajaj. They received financing from al-Qaeda member Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle.

In March 1994, four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing: Abouhalima, Ajaj, Ayyad and Salameh. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property and interstate transportation of explosives. And in November 1997, two more were convicted: Yousef, the mastermind behind the bombings, and Eyad Ismoil, who drove the truck carrying the bomb.

The bomb exploded in the underground garage at 12:17 P.M., generating a pressure estimated over one GPa and opening a 22 foot wide and five stories deep hole through four sublevels of concrete. The detonation velocity of this bomb was about 15,000 ft/s.

I remember working in the vault at a bank across right across the street from Tower One. I think it was Tower One; whichever one had the Tower Records and the Borders inside.

So the vault was a good four or five stories below the street. Co-workers who preceded me there said on this day they had no idea what was going on. When they ascended to the cold February daylight for their lunch hour they were horrified to see what was unfolding, straight from a Twilight Zone episode. They were so far underground they knew nothing, like people trapped in a fall out shelter coming out after a nuclear war.

I was sitting in Bay Ridge Pizza with a few friends from school and it was snowing. I was looking out at Holbro. I think its Brooklyn Art & Frame now, it was just an art store then. I was probably contemplating going in and trying to steal a paint marker at that point while letting a sweet, sugary Bay Ridge Pizzeria slice or two digest.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 15 years ago today. February 26, 1993.

I would highly suggest reading, if you have not already, an amazing book called “1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI–the Untold Story” by my friend, the award-winning journalist, Peter Lance.

Peter traces the 9/11 plot backwards from before the 1993 bombing. It's a groundbreaking investigative work that reads like an international thriller; non-fiction that totally reads like fiction. And that means its damn good and Peter did a lot of homework and dug stuff up where no one thought to bring shovels before.

For most Americans the true origin of the 9/11 attacks remains a mystery. But as those two planes hit the Twin Towers on that beautiful September morning, three strangers knew exactly what had happened: FBI agent Nancy Floyd, FDNY fire marshal Ronnie Bucca, and Ramzi Yousef, the bomb-making terrorist an American judge once called "an apostle of evil". The three had been on a collision course for years—soldiers on opposing sides of a terror war raging since the late 1980's!

Yousef and his crew failed to topple the towers into each other and he vowed to finish the job. Unbeknownst to us this was only the beginning and the seeds for 9/11 were planted on this day, 15 years ago.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for remembering.

FYI: Borders, and all of the other retail stores were in the mall. None of those stores were in the "towers".

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're wrong.

Borders was both in the Mall and in the Towers. It was a 3 story complex, with the base in the underground mall. The next two floors were in tower 4 or 5. There were escalators that brought you up and down.