Sunday, February 26, 2006

Never Forget

Thirteen years ago, on February 26, 1993, an act of war was committed against the United States.

Six people were killed and more than one thousand were injured when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.

This pre-9/11 attack was supposed to be every bit as devastating as the one that occurred in 2001, possibly more so.

By detonating a bomb in the understructure of the building, their intent was to topple one tower into the other. In addition to the World Trade Center, additional attacks were also planned for the UN Building, the federal office building housing the FBI, the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, and the George Washington Bridge.

This attack meant the terrorists had declared war. The Clinton Administration chose to use the legal and law enforcement communities to fight terrorism, rather than extending the full reach of U.S. capabilities.

In the 9/11 Commission hearings, former counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke testified saying, "My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority. There were priorities probably of equal importance such as the Middle East peace process, but I certainly don't know of one that was any higher in the priority of that administration."

This statement is puzzling considering that two weeks after the '93 WTC attack, President Clinton was at a defense plant talking about cutting defense spending.

The effects of this attack went deeper than anyone realized at the time. According to the 9/11 Report:
First, the bombing signaled a new terrorist challenge, one whose rage and malice had no limit.Ramzi Yousef, the Sunni extremist who planted the bomb, said later that he had hoped to kill 250,000 people.

Second, the FBI and the Justice Department did excellent work investigating the bombing. Within days, the FBI identified a truck remnant as part of a Ryder rental van reported stolen in Jersey City the day before the bombing.


An unfortunate consequence of this superb investigative and prosecutorial effort was that it created an impression that the law enforcement system was well-equipped to cope with terrorism. Neither President Clinton, his principal advisers,the Congress, nor the news media felt prompted,until later, to press the question of whether the procedures that put the Blind Sheikh and Ramzi Yousef behind bars would really protect Americans against the new virus of which these individuals were just the first symptoms.

Third, the successful use of the legal system to address the first World Trade Center bombing had the side effect of obscuring the need to examine the character and extent of the new threat facing the United States. The trials did not bring the Bin Ladin network to the attention of the public and policymakers.
That last statement is unfortunately true. To this day, most people think al-Qaeda was solely responsible for the 1993 attack. They likely do not realize that other groups were involved as well. They may be unaware that one of these groups owns a couple dozen compounds in the U.S. even today and continues to operate. They might be troubled to learn that just last month, the Asia Times linked this group's leader to al-Qaeda's Pakistan operations chief.

Consider this excerpt from the Terrorism Knowledge Base legal case profile:
The investigation following the explosions linked several distinct groups to the bombing and revealed a conspiracy to target other New York City landmarks such as the United Nations building. One of these groups included five defendants who were arrested during a raid at a New York City garage in which law enforcement officials found the five mixing chemicals that were to be used in bombs. The men were charged with conspiring to bomb a building in the United Nations headquarters, the federal office building housing the FBI, and two tunnels under the Hudson River linking New York and New Jersey.

From this group, members of Fuqra, the FBI found links to 10 additional suspects and a federal grand jury indicted all 15 on charges that they plotted to bomb the United Nations and other New York City landmarks, and plotted to assassinate Egyptian leaders. Across the board, bail was denied. Fuqra is a radical Islamic sect whose followers are believed to be responsible for a string of crimes in the United States.
We also learn from the 9/11 Report that the 1993 attack inspired the 9/11 attack: "According to KSM, he started to think about attacking the United States after Yousef returned to Pakistan following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing."

As I said, this was an opening shot in a long war. It is a war we must not lose.

Let us never forget...and, as we go forward, let's roll.

See also
BBC report, including video, from Feb. 26, 1993

An eerie quote in the story from an eywitness: "It felt like an airplane hit the building."

Also check out material from my independent investigation of Fuqra.

Related Posts
Northeast Intelligence Network
The Counterterrorism Blog


ABFreedom said...

Great post CP! .. from up here, we look at both your Dems, and our Liberals as wanting to tear down all things military, and wanting to go into the muslim world with flowers in their hair, much like the sixties. Most of us know this will never work, so we have focused our efforts on getting rid of them first. Your post illustrates that the war has only just begun, and will probably get a lot nastier ...

Canadian Sentinel said...

Excellent post, CP. I remember when it happened, but then I didn't grasp the real implications. Not till they did it again, as promised at the end of the movie about the '93 attack, "Pathway to Paradise" which I happened to rent following 9/11. It had been out for years, but as I could see by looking at the tape, I was the very first to rent the movie.

It's quite educational and worth watching! Maybe you can find one somehow.

I'll be linking to your post later today... am at work... by choice, actually. It's nice to be able to make one's own hours!

Unfortunately, there remain many who don't want to hear about these important events. Only way they'll listen is when the CNN has declared the words: "This Is World War Three"... which, unfortnately, must be assumed as imminent.

Let's roll!