I am sure everyone can remember where they were on 9-11-2001 but how many remember the first attack in 1993?
I do because it was a work day for me February 26,1993 at Strawberry’s Clothing store. My very first job in High School. I started out in Brooklyn NY downtown store, November 1992 but after training I was placed to work in One World Trade Center in Manhattan. All retain stores were on the first floor of the twin towers. Unfortunately for me, mine was next to the New Jersey transit station. I remember there was a tremor and then the store lights all went out. We were in the dark, store regulations were to evacuate the store in case of an emergency and then we gather our personal belongings and get out. We did not know what made that tremor or the loud that followed, but were saw people running. Now, if you are from NY or know anything about NY when you see people running you just begin running ask no questions (LOL). We all got out safely because we later found the structural damage was only to the subway and it was contained.
World Trade Center
Completed in 1973, the World Trade Center’s twin towers loomed over lower Manhattan at 110 stories each. Although these iconic buildings, which were the tallest in the world before being overtaken by Chicago’s Sears Tower, struggled at first to attract tenants, some 50,000 office workers eventually filled them to near capacity.
Tens of thousands of additional visitors came daily to check out the view from an observation deck or the 107th-floor restaurant, Windows on the World.
Safety concerns became apparent as early as 1975, when a disgruntled custodian set a fire in the north tower that caused millions of dollars in damages and prompted calls for the installation of a sprinkler system.
A decade or so later, the government agency that owned the World Trade Center began examining possible terrorism threats. But it ended up ignoring many of its security team’s recommendations, including that public parking be eliminated or that cars at least be randomly inspected.
Omar Abdel Rahman
In September 1992, explosives expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef arrived in New York City on a flight from Pakistan and began planning an attack on the World Trade Center, with the alleged goal of toppling the north tower into the south tower. He received help from followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric living in Brooklyn who spoke in sermons of destroying the “edifices of capitalism.”
The plotters rented a storage locker in New Jersey, where they stockpiled urea, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other ingredients for making bombs. They simultaneously concocted a nitroglycerin trigger at a nearby apartment and scouted out the World Trade Center’s underground parking floors.
On the morning of February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder office in New Jersey. Two of them then crossed the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.
At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.”
Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.
As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A choir of kindergartners descended from the 107th floor after being stuck for five hours. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom.
Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopters. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.
Investigators sifting through the rubble soon came across the vehicle identification number for the rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before the attack. FBI agents then arrested Mohammad Salameh, who had rented the van under his own name, when he returned to the Ryder dealership to ask for his $400 deposit back.
Subsequent arrests were made of Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad and Mahmoud Abouhalima. In March 1994 a federal jury convicted the four of them for their role in the bombing, and they were each sentenced to life behind bars.
Meanwhile, authorities uncovered a related plot in which followers of Sheikh Abdel Rahman planned to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks. In that case, the sheikh and nine co-defendants were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges.
A third case led to life sentences for Yousef, who was captured in Pakistan in 1995, and the driver of the rental van, who was captured in Jordan that same year. Only one suspect, Abdul Rahman Yasin, who fled to Iraq after being questioned and released by the FBI, remains at large.
I again was at a different job, this time I worked still in Manhattan but with a dot.com company as an IT Help Desk Assistant. I worked about 2 train stops after the World Trade center train stop. In other words my train passed right under the Trade Center stop. On that morning for some reason I woke up got my son ready for school, called out sick and went back to bed. Nothing was wrong with me all I can say is NO ONE – BUT GOD. When it’s not your time it’s not your time. I went back to bed, only to wake up an hour later with the TV showing these images and wonder “What in the Good name is going on?” I them called my mom who was frantically yelling “Where I are? I have been calling you all morning, you work, your cell…” I said I am home. I called in sick, she said I just spoke to you and you didn’t mention you were sick” I said “I am not sick, something just came over me and I didn’t want to go into work.” A lie to my employer but it was indeed the best lie I ever told. The time the building was hit would be around the time I was either at the World Trade Center train stop or nearing it, or just passing it, either way I would be a casualty.
World Trade Center Reopens
In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, the buildings’ owner repaired the damage, upgraded elevators and electrical systems, put battery-operated emergency lights and luminescent paint in the stairwells, and set up emergency command centers. By 2000 the complex had reached its highest occupancy rate of all time.
But the World Trade Center was struck again during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al Qaeda flew hijacked planes into the towers, killing nearly 3,000 people.
I went back in 2017 to visit my old stomping grounds, it wasn’t the same, it was different. But this beautiful monument of a building reminds me for times I could never forget. Lunches, stores, activities, co-workers, shopping, food, fun and laughter. It’s different but beautiful. Reminds me, that sometimes when our instinct or gut feelings are talking to us it is really God whispering to us. Trust it.