On the unfortunate afternoon of February 26, 1993, an explosion originating from the underground parking area of the World Trade Center 1 occurred, taking the lives of six (6) civilians while injuring another 1,042 (Antiterrorism Historical Vignette, n.d.; Greenspan, 2013). The explosion which occurred at exactly 12:17 pm of the said date came from a yellow Ford Econoline van which was traced to have been rented from a Ryder dealership in New Jersey, USA (Parachini, 2000; Greenspan, 2013). The massive explosion, but failing to achieve its main aim as expounded later in this paper, created a cavernous crater measured to be 200 ft. by 100 ft. wide and seven (7) stories deep—damages that were estimated to cost the World Trade Center approximately $300 million (Parachini, 2000). As reported, the primary explosive used in this tragic event was a 1,500-pound homemade mixture of highly unstable chemicals, producing nitrourea or urea-nitrate bomb: A white crystalline powder categorized as a Class A explosive (Parachini, 2000; Fire, 1993). Aside from the tremendous crater created by the explosion, pungent vapor from the diffused bomb reached until the 46th floor of one of the tallest buildings of USA, causing slight injuries through smoke inhalation among hundreds of the 50,000 employees evacuated from the attacked building at that time (Parachini, 2000, “World Trade Center Bombed,” 1993). Furthermore, being built to endure the impact of a Boeing 707 jet crash, the building remained intact but the explosion underneath resulted in the collapse of the garage and the crumbling of 6,000-tons of debris (Parachini, 2000).
ust like the attack of al-Qaeda on World Trade Center in 2001, the 1993 WTC bombing also qualifies as an act of terrorism although it yielded negligible number of casualties and property losses as compared to those which resulted from the 9/11 attacks. Defining terrorism as any act of violence done to stimulate fear “for (1) political, (2) religious, or (3) ideological reasons” (Matusitz, 2013, p. 4), the 1993 WTC bombing may be considered as an act of terror against USA. In fact, it is the best recognized terrorist attack on World Trade Center before the 9/11 attack on 2001 became the benchmark image of what American terrorism looks like (Parachini, 2000).
Qualifying as an act of terrorism, the 1993 WTC attack actually failed in fulfilling its initial plans. The bombing of the underground parking lot of World Trade Center 1 in February 26, 1993 was actually concerted in an aim to force the building to collapse and lean onto its twin tower—a goal aimed to kill 250,000 American civilians (Parachini, 2000; “World Trade Center Bombed,” 1993). In estimation, if the failed plan of the bombers was instead fulfilled—even if just one of the twin towers actually collapsed—100,000 civilians could have been hurt and killed as there were an estimated 20,000 civilian employees and 80,000 civilians with different purposes within the World Trade Center everyday at the time of the bombing (Parachini, 2000). Reviewing experts’ comments on why the initial plan of bringing the World Trade Center into a massive disintegration, the main cause was the quality of the improvised bomb used which was deemed insufficient to bring down a colossal structure with substantial strength, such as that of the World Trade Center in New York, USA, which could withstand hard impacts (Parachini, 2000). Another reason seen was the amount of ingredients used to make the homemade bomb which was considered inadequate to achieve the quality of explosive the 1993 WTC bombers originally had in their minds (Parachini, 2000). The inexperience and lack of funding for the terrorist group of the 1993 WTC attack were also counted as a reason. But who were the individuals behind the 1993 WTC tragedy that took the lives of six (6) civilians, including one (1) pregnant woman while injuring more than a thousand others? What was/were their motives in committing their heinous and massive crime?
The group that committed the WTC bombing in 1993 was found to be composed of five (5) trans-national men, all coming from different countries in Middle East Asia and settled in New Jersey, USA with a plot to harm a large number of American civilians (Parachini, 2000). This group of five (5) Muslim men was led by Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani citizen who entered and settled in USA on September 1, 1992 and eventually became a naturalized US citizen (Parachini, 2000). The other four (4) men were Mohammad Salameh, Abouhalima, Nidal Ayyad, and Mohammad Ajaj (Parachini, 2000).
Ramzi Yousef, being the head of the group, manipulated and led the other four (4) men through charismatic persuasion (Parachini, 2000). As an accomplished terrorist, Yousef’s skills as an explosive expert were shaped after attending a terrorist camp, Camp Caldoun, in Afghanistan prior to his move in USA (Parachini, 2000). After shaping his terrorist skills, Yousef traveled worldwide as a professional terrorist serving the purpose of Islamic Jihad, although he seldom talked about religion after his capture in connection with the 1993 bombing of WTC 1 (Parachini, 2000).
The second member of the group, Mohamad Salameh was described as having a pathetic background—being the eldest son to a couple with 11 children (Parachini, 2000). Salameh was described as the bungler or the clumsiest member of the group who was also too easy to persuade and manipulate (Parachini, 2000). In fact, Salameh’s return to the Ryder dealership office to retrieve the $400 they deposited for the car they rented for the attack led to his arrest (Parachini, 2000, “World Trade Center Bombed,” 1993). Salameh was originally an avid follower of El-Sayid Nosair, the assassin of rabbi Meir Kahane (Parachini, 2000). However, upon settling in New Jersey, he met the man who was to become their group’s leader, Ramzi Yousef, in a boarding house (Parachini, 2000). Given his nature, Salameh was easily persuaded and manipulated by Yousef to participate in their terrorist goals (Parachini, 2000).
The third person, Abouhalima, was an Egyptian national who was initially a devoted follower of Sheikh Abdul Rahman (Parachini, 2000). As a terrorist, Abouhalima’s defining experience was when he joined and fought during the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union (Parachini, 2000). Upon migrating to USA, Abouhalima worked in a car services company based in New York—an experience that would later award him the advantage of knowing the WTC too well to plan for its bombardment (Parachini, 2000).
The fourth person in the group was Nidal Ayyad, an accomplished individual who graduated from Rutgers University (Parachini, 2000). Ayyad had wife who was pregnant with their first child at the time of his participation with the group—an account which prompted one author to describe Ayyad as having “risked a good life in America by participating in the plot” (Parachini, 2000, p. 188). Ayyad was a naturalized US citizen born in Kuwait to a Palestinian couple (Parachini, 2000). Ayyad, being an accomplished chemical engineer, played a crucial role in the execution of the bombing by doing the transactions for ordering chemicals to be used by the group’s vile purposes (Parachini, 2000).
Lastly, a man named Mohammad Ajaj whom Yousef met in the same flight from Pakistan headed towards New York City. Ajaj was most remarkable for being detained by the US government upon his landing due to defrauding his passport (Parachini, 2000). Presenting a Swedish passport, authorities in the airport where his flight with Yousef landed found his credentials suspicious and a thorough inspection of his belongings revealed several passports, bomb manuals, and videos about bomb-making—a finding that prompted the airport officials to detain him for six (6) months in prison (Parachini, 2000).
The aforementioned five (5) men were the key perpetrators that staged the 1993 WTC bombing—an act of terrorism they plotted out for two (2) years (Parachini, 2000). Many theories were built in an aim to explain the direct motive for the WTC attack that they have conducted and one of the most appealing was the hypothesis that their group was sent and organized by the Iraq’s intelligence department (Parachini, 2000). However, the diversity among the group’s members was the prime factor that discourages such claims and theories of the Iraq’s involvement in the attack (Parachini, 2000). In fact, the members of Yousef’s group—unlike al-Qaeda whose members campaigned for one cause—moved for different goals. Ajaj, Ayyad, and Abouhalima, despite denying any association with the 1993 WTC bombing, were the only ones who actually expressed religious sentiments during the release of their sentences (Parachini, 2000). Salameh, on the other hand, was most likely just influenced and manipulated by the group’s leader, although there is no literature that directly supports such claim. Yousef, being the leader of the group, was most likely motivated by his hatred toward the US government, specifically for supporting Israel (Parachini, 2000). But his hatred toward the fact that US helped Israel was not the only aspect that compelled him to lead the 1993 WTC bombing. According to reports, Yousef believed that to be able to bring down one of America’s building of pride will render him genius and superior in his craft (Parachini, 2000), a finding that may suggest that Yousef actually suffered from a mental illness.
The weakening fact that the 1993 WTC bombing was conducted solely to hurt and terrorize the American society compelled American government to move. As part of the initial response of the American government, thousands of civilians within the building were evacuated (Antiterrorism Historical Vignette, n.d.; Greenspan, 2013). Furthermore, the arrest and capture of the group became rapid and highly demanded (Greenspan, 2013; Parachini, 2000).
Antiterrorism Historical Vignette. (n.d.). 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Retrieved from http://carlislebarracks.carlisle.army.mil/iWatch/downloads/Vignettes/WTC%20Attack%20(FEB93)%20FINAL.pdf
Fire, F.L. (1993). The Materials Involved in the WTC Bomb. In US Fire Administration (Ed.), The World Trade Center Bombing: Report and Analysis (p. 20). Retrieved from http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/tr-076.pdf
Greenspan, J. (2013, Feb. 26). Remembering the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Retrieved from http://www.”World Trade Center Bombed”.com/news/remembering-the-1993-world-trade-center-bombing
Matusitz, J. (2013). What is Terrorism. In Terrorism and Communication: A Critical Introduction (pp. 1-31). Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/51172_ch_1.pdf
Parachini, 2000, J.V. (2000). The World Trade Center Bombers (1993). In J.B. Tucker (Ed.), Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (pp. 185-206). Retrieved from http://cns.miis.edu/books/pdfs/toxter11.pdf
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