Monday, February 26, 2018
The First Time the World Trade Center Was Attacked
History tells us — correctly — that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
But that was not the first time terrorists targeted the iconic towers.
Terrorists tried to blow up the World Trade Center 25 years ago today with a car bomb in the basement of the North Tower (which would be the first of the towers to be struck by a hijacked airplane in 2001). The plan was for the North Tower to collapse into the South Tower, killing tens of thousands of people in the process.
That plan did not succeed. It caused some damage, killed half a dozen people and injured hundreds more (most of the injuries occurred during the process of evacuating the tower), but the Twin Towers remained standing for more than eight years.
Outraged initially, Americans became distracted by other things, and they went on with their lives. The terrorists learned from the experience and returned with a far deadlier plan in 2001.
The names of the conspirators on that first occasion — Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmed Ajaj and the financier Khaled Sheikh Mohammed — became infamous in American history. Most were convicted in U.S. courts.
Osama bin Laden, who was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, was not found to have any connection to the 1993 bombing.
The body count 25 years ago today was significantly lower than the one on Sept. 11, of course, and that seems to make forgetting about what happened in 1993 justifiable — but it is instructive in evaluating the mentality of the terrorists.
The 1993 attack didn't produce as many casualties and the damage wasn't as extensive, but these people weren't like jilted boyfriends who impulsively acted on urges to get even with their exes. The terrorists were — and, presumably, still are — very patient and willing to devote as much time as necessary to learn from their mistakes. They waited more than eight years before trying again, but their attack in 2001 was far more productive from their point of view.
That will be worth remembering if the terrorists attempt something else in the future. If they fail, don't think that it is over. They will almost certainly be back.