U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

World Trade Center Bombers (1993)

NCJ Number
190319
Author(s)
John V. Parachini
Date Published
2000
Length
22 pages
Annotation
The paper seeks to support the argument that the terrorists behind the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 were motivated not by religious reasons, but by revenge for America's support of Israel.
Abstract
The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center marked the beginning of an ugly new phase of terrorism involving the indiscriminant killing of civilians. Although the judge, when sentencing the mastermind behind the bombing, Ramzi Yousef, claimed the bomb contained sodium cyanide, which, had it been used properly, would have killed everyone in the building, the paper refuted that the bomb contained the chemical weapons. The perpetrators selected the World Trade Center because toppling it would inflict a large number of casualties. In November 1992, they began building a sophisticated urea-nitrate bomb that they believed would topple the building by exploding in the basement. Instead, it left a crater 200 feet by 100 feet wide and 7 stories deep, sending acrid smoke to the 46th floor, killing 6 people, and injuring 1,000. They were caught, tried, and sentenced to 240-year terms in maximum security prisons. A few analysts suggested the perpetrators were Iraqi agents; it was more likely they were "transnational terrorist," supported by several Islamic militant groups, such as the Gama al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad. There was no forensic evidence to support the assertion that the bombs contained sodium cyanide. If the chemical would have been used, the size of the bomb would have required such a large quantity that a chemical supplier probably would have requested a site visit to ensure the buyer could handle the shipment safely. Evidence existed that the conspirators considered lacing the bombs with a poison. Before his arrest, Yousef threatened to use chemical weapons. Rather then having religious motivations, the perpetrators intent was to punish and seek revenge for the United States' support of Israel. They argued that to appreciate the tragedy Palestinians experienced at the hands of the Israelis, innocent Americans had to die. The American people would come to value Palestinian lives as much as their own and stop supporting Israel. Footnotes