Little Bits of History

World Trade Center

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2012

WTC damage in 1993

February 26, 1993: A truck bomb explodes in New York City. Ramzi Yousef and his cohorts received financial backing from Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef’s uncle. They placed a 1,500 pound urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device in the back of a Ryder van and parked in the public garage under the World Trade Center (WTC). There was a 20 foot fuse giving Yousef and Eyad Ismoil twelve minutes to leave the area after Yousef lit the fuse with his cigarette lighter. The plan was to knock North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two) and bring down the WTC. The bomb was brought in shortly after noon. It was expected to cause thousands of deaths.

The fuse burnt down and at 12:17:37 PM the bomb exploded. A 98 foot hole ripped through four sublevels of concrete. The explosion cut the main electrical power line and emergency lighting was lost. The roiling smoke reached as high as the 93rd floor in both towers. Even the stairwells filled with smoke making evacuation even more difficult. People were trapped in the elevators when power was lost. Broadcast radio and television signals were also loss when the electricity lines were severed.

Six people were killed in the explosion. Another 1,042 were injured, many due to smoke inhalation as they made their way down the emergency exits. The towers, however, remained standing. If the truck had been parked closer to the poured concrete foundations, the plan may have worked. The loaded truck had left Jersey City early in the morning. There is speculation that the original target was the UN building but security was too strict. The WTC was a second-best target and the noon hour bombing came after failure to park at the UN.

Within hours, Yousef had escaped to Pakistan. Yousef was the 436th person to be added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on April 21, 1993. On February 7, 1995 Pakistani intelligence and US Bureau of Diplomatic Security captured Yousef in Islamabad, Pakistan. Yousef was found guilty of two separate acts of terrorism. He is held at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. He is serving a life sentence without parole.

With just a little more money, they would have come down, it is not yet finished. – Ramzi Yousef, looking at the WTC

I am a terrorist, and I am proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government. – Ramzi Yousef, at his trial

While we must remain determined to defeat terrorism, it isn’t only terrorism we are fighting. It’s the beliefs that motivate terrorists. A new ideology of hatred and intolerance has arisen to challenge America and liberal democracy. – John Kerry

There is no doubt that our nation’s security and defeating terrorism trump all other priorities. – Arlen Specter

Also on this day:

Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon – In 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was established.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.