Wednesday, February 26, 2014
First Bombing of the World Trade Center - 1993
On February 26, 1993, a bomb explodes in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people died and 1,000 were injured by the powerful blast, which also caused the evacuation of thousands of people from the Twin Towers. Investigators at the bomb scene found a section of a van frame that had been at the center of the blast. The van's vehicle identification number was still visible, leading detectives to the Ryder Rental Agency in Jersey City, New Jersey. Their records indicated that Mohammed Salameh had rented the van and reported it stolen on February 25. Salameh was already in the FBI's database as a potential terrorist, so agents knew that they had probably found their man. Salameh compounded his mistake by insisting that Ryder return his $400 deposit. When he returned to collect it, the FBI arrested him. A search of his home and records led to two other suspects.
Meanwhile, the owner of a storage facility in Jersey City came forward to say that he had seen four men loading a Ryder van on February 25. When this storage space was checked, they found enough chemicals, including very unstable nitroglycerin, to make another massive bomb. Investigators also found videotapes with instructions on bomb making that led to the arrest of a fourth suspect. Other evidence showed that one of the terrorists had bought hydrogen tanks from AGL Welding Supply in New Jersey. In the wreckage under the World Trade Center, three tanks marked "AGL Welding" were found. In addition, the terrorists had sent a letter to the New York Times claiming responsibility for the blast. Portions of this letter were found on a computer desk taken from a suspect's office. Finally, DNA analysis of saliva on the envelope matched that of the suspect. The wealth of evidence resulted in easy convictions, and each of the men were sentenced to over 200 years in prison.