February 26 in N.Y.C. History
Posted: Feb 26, 2013 | 12:05 AM
In remembrance to those who were killed, injured, and survived the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
1643: Nieuw Amsterdam appointed the first fire wardens.
1870: New York City opened a (block long) pneumatic-powered subway line to the public.
1988: NYPD officer Edward Byrne was killed while guarding a drug witness in South Jamaica, Queens.
1993: The World Trade Center was bombed by the largest truck bomb in US History up to that point, killing six and injuring over 1,000.
Few pictures of the attack are publicly available.
I describe this attack a bit on my World Trade Center tour. Here a good description, a quote of the National Fire Protection Association's report on the World Trade Center Explosion and Fire, New York, NY February 26, 1993.
Here is some surprising background: If the terrorists had 10% more explosives in their vehicle or, for them, a better parking spot, they would have taken at least one of the towers down. I don't get into this next fact on the vast majority of my World Trade Center tours, but this is my blog, so I will share that the FBI admitted partial culpability for this attack because it had an infiltrator assisting the terrorists with getting explosives. When the infiltrator reported that the attack was eminent, his handlers stated that they moved on to other matters. If you like learning about this sort of ineptitude/intrigue, let's arrange the WTC Deep History Tour, which I rarely give.
Emad Salam, the infiltrator, will soon be put to good use by the FBI and the NYPD to foil the June 1993 Landmarks plot. Agents from both law enforcement agencies will come to blows as to the timing of foiling the plot. The FBI wanted the bombs to be developed and deployed for better chance of convictions, and the NYPD literally pushed and shoved to arrest sooner to prevent any death and destruction.
Someone in my neighborhood was one of the eight Islamist terrorists arrested in this plot as he was mixing the bomb ingredients. I had an encounter with his Jewish-born wife and mother-in-law, and they were jerks.
The Landmarks plot was eventually deployed in Mumbai, India 2008.
The 1993 WTC attack's mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, was arrested in Manila while he was planning the Project Bojinka attacks in 1995. Project Bojinka included the simultaneous hijacking of a dozen jets, crashing them into buildings.
When Yousef was flown into NYC for his trial, he was shown that the Twin Towers still stood. He replied: 'for now.'
Here is more details. These state that he would have knocked them down with more explosives and money.
The 2001 WTC attacks were masterminded by Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Despite a great deal of evidence linking Yousef to Al Qaeda, the organization was not pursued, and the investigation and the prosecution was focused on a cell around a religious extremist in NJ, "the Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman who continues to spend his life in jail.
My take on this is that it is better for FBI agents to get a conviction and move on then to to continue an investigation indefinitely that takes you around the world impacting several layers of the US bureaucracy and other national roadblocks. It may prevent future attacks, but in the nearer term it is bad for one's career for several reasons.
When the WTC was attacked again on 9/11/01, I immediately connected it to "Osama bin Laden," who I had been following in the news since at least 1998. There was talk of hijackings by him all 2001. That was the first week I had heard the term "Al Qaeda."
Condoleeza Rice might not have been able to 'imagine' planes attacking buildings,
but such plans were known about and addressed for years around the US
and the world, and in the Department of Defense.
The 9/11 Commission laid blame for our lack of defense on a 'failure of imagination and connecting the dots.' Condoleeza Rice is likely the worst National Security Adviser. I don't usually get into politics on my World Trade Center tours, but I do on my rarely given WTC 9/11 Deep History tour.