NYC Marks 20th Anniversary of First WTC Attack - The Jewish Voice
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NYC Marks 20th Anniversary of First WTC Attack

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A woman is helped by two NYPD officers after the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center blast.
A woman is helped by two NYPD officers after the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center blast.
On Tuesday, February 26, a ceremony was held at the national 9/11 memorial in honor of the six victims who died during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as a bell tolled for a moment of silence at 12:18 p.m., the time when a truck bomb erupted below the north tower.

Over 1,000 people were injured in the first attack on the World Trade Center nearly 20 years ago, where explosives were set off in an underground garage below one of the towers.

“Today we stop and remember the six innocent people killed in the World Trade Center attack two decades ago,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said.

“Like those lost in the 2001 attacks, the memory of each victim will be forever preserved at the Memorial and Museum for future generations. Their lives and the history of February 26, 1993 will never be forgotten.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly added in a statement that the 1993 attack was the first demonstration that “terrorism is theater and New York is the biggest stage.

The eruption killed Stephen Knapp, 48 John DiGiovanni, 45, Robert W. Kirkpatrick, 61, William Macko, 57, Wilfredo Mercado, 37 and Monica Rodriguez Smith, 34, who was pregnant with her first child.

“The only thing that saddens us more than our father’s death is that nothing was learned from the entire ordeal,” said Michael Macko, son of William Macko, in a written statement. “I wish that a more serious look was taken so that it may have prevented 9/11 from ever occurring.”

A granite memorial fountain honoring the victims of the bombing was designed by Elyn Zimmerman and dedicated in 1995 on Austin J. Tobin Plaza, directly above the site of the explosion. It contained the names of the six adults who were killed in the attack as well as an inscription that read:

“On February 26, 1993, a bomb set by terrorists exploded below this site. This horrible act of violence killed innocent people, injured thousands, and made victims of us all.”

In March 1994, four Islamic extremists were convicted of carrying out the bombing: Abouhalima, Ajaj, Ayyad and Salameh. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property and interstate transportation of explosives. In November 1997, two more were convicted: Eyad Ismoil, who drove the truck carrying the bomb, and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the bombings.

In the wake of his trial, Yousef stated: “Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars and hypocrites.” He was sentenced to two life sentences for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and as well as other charges.

In October of last year, the terrorist filed a petition requesting that a federal judge release him from solitary confinement, citing “good behavior.”

“I request an immediate end to my solitary confinement and ask to be in a unit in an open prison environment, where inmates are allowed outside their cells for no less than 14 hours a day,” Yousef wrote in a letter he gave to a prison warden, The Los Angeles Times reported, according to confidential government records that the paper obtained.

Bernard V. Kleinman, Yousef’s lawyer, said in an interview that the convicted terrorist already “demonstrates a degree of paranoia and a degree of fear that would not be normal or expected if he was in the general population or had more contact with other inmates.”

Meanwhile, the terrorist remains in solitary confinement at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy, who had sentenced Yousef to prison 20 years ago, referred the case to a judge in Colorado, where it’s currently pending. However, in January of this year, the Justice Department urged that the case be dismissed on procedural grounds.

In the wake of the bombing, and the chaotic evacuation, which followed, the World Trade Center and many of the firms inside it, revamped emergency procedures, particularly with regard to evacuation of the towers. These policies played a role in evacuating the building during the 2001 terrorist attack which destroyed the towers.

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