Moments in Time

26 February 1993

A DSS Agent operates an explosives detector inside a crater left by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Source: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

World Trade Center Bombing

On 26 February, a bomb exploded in a parking garage of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. This event was the first indication for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) that terrorism was evolving from a regional phenomenon outside of the United States to a transnational phenomenon.

The New York City (NYC) Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force immediately called upon DSS for support during the investigation. Working with NYC Police, the FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), DSS helped to quickly identify a group of Middle Eastern terrorists as those responsible for the attack. FBI and NYC police arrested most of them before they could leave the United States; however, Ramzi Yousef, the driver of the van containing the explosives, escaped.

In July 1993, the Department of State offered a $2 million reward through the Rewards for Justice Program for information leading to the arrest of Yousef.

By this time, Yousef had disappeared underground; US law enforcement officials believed that Yousef had escaped to Pakistan, but they had little reliable information about his location.

In February 1995, nearly two years after the WTC attack, a man presented himself at the residence of a US diplomat in Karachi, and claimed to have information about Yousef's location. DSS agents in Pakistan confirmed that the man was a legitimate source: he was a former contact for Yousef. Based on his information, DSS agents Bill Miller and Jeff Riner alerted Pakistani officials and prepared to raid Yousef 's hotel room.

On 7 February 1995, a team of Pakistani law enforcement officers and DSS agents, including Miller, stormed into Yousef 's room, waking him from a nap, and arrested him. The next day, Pakistani officials turned Yousef over to FBI agents, who flew him to New York City for arraignment. The informant received a $2 million reward, and on 11 March, Yousef was indicted for the 1993 WTC bombing.

Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years in prison. He is serving his life sentences at ADX Florence, located near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cell block that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City bombing), Eric Rudolph (Olympic Park bombings), and Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber). The handcuffs Ramzi Yousef wore when he was captured in Pakistan are displayed at the FBI Museum in Washington, D.C. His Federal Prisoner number is: 03911-000 and his maternal uncle is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al-Qaeda member accused of being the principal architect of the September 11 attacks in 2001.






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