A lot of people forget, but on this day in 1993, the former World Trade Center was bombed. Years before Sept. 11, 2001, a terrorist bomb exploded underneath the World Trade Center in a parking garage. The explosion left a crater that was 60 feet wide. Several floors collapsed around the explosion, six people died, and over 1,000 people suffered injury. Incredibly, the primary structure of the building was not damaged.
Suspects Arrested Days After Bombing
The explosion happened at 12:18 p.m., and the rest of the afternoon was spent evacuating approximately 50,000 individuals from the buildings. At the same time, the FBI began a world-wide manhunt to collect suspects. Within several days of the bombing, they had arrested multiple individuals involved in the attack.
Authorities arrested Mohammed Salameh after he appeared at a Ryder van rental store to pick up $400 he deposited to rent the van used in the attack. Shortly after Salameh's arrest, Nidal Ayyad and Ahmad Ajaj were arrested for helping build the bomb. Mahmoud Abouhalima, who fled to Egypt after the attack, was arrested in Egypt for helping to purchase and combine the bomb ingredients. In March 1994, all of these suspects were convicted and punished with life in prison for their involvement in the attacks.
Leader of the Attack Arrested in 1995
The man who actually planned the attacks, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, was not arrested until February 1995. Authorities tracked him down in Pakistan, after he left a computer in the Philippines. Inside the computer's files were plans to murder Catholic Pope John Paul II, and plans to attack 15 U.S. commercial flights with bombs. Allegedly, while Yousef was being transported to the United States, he confessed that he lit the fuse that detonated the World Trade Center bomb and he planned and managed the entire attack. Yousef further said that he intended for the tower to collapse against each other and for both of them to come down, but he failed because neither of them fell. Yousef said that this was his only regret regarding the attacks.
Eyad Ismoil was also arrested in 1995 in Jordan for his role in driving the Ryder van and leaving it in the parking garage under the World Trade Center. Ismoil and Yousef were convicted in November 1997 and they were also punished with life in prison with no chance of parole.
Sadly, on September 11, 2001, two al Qaeda terrorists groups completed Yousef's goal of bringing down the twin towers of the World Trade Center by hijacking and flying two passenger jets into the skyscrapers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day and nearly 10,000 were injured.
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