New York City landmark bomb plot
The New York City landmark bomb plot was a planned follow-up to the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing designed to inflict mass casualties on American soil by attacking well known landmark targets throughout New York City in the United States. If the attack had been successful, it is likely it would have resulted in the death of thousands. The plot was foiled in 1993 before it could be carried out.
The plot was espoused by the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, a radical Muslim cleric in New York City, to be carried out by some of his followers. Rahman was the spiritual leader of the al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a radical Egyptian Islamic group and had links to al-Qaeda. One of Rahman's followers, El Sayyid Nosair, had assassinated Meir Kahane in 1990 and was linked to the 1993 Trade Center bombing.
The six targets to be attacked were the United Nations Headquarters, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the George Washington Bridge, St. Regis and U.N. Plaza hotels, and the FBI's main New York office at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building. There was also some talk of bombing Jewish targets in the city as well as assassinating U.S. Senator Al D'Amato and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The attack on the hotels would be detrimental because these hotels are known to host prestigious guests such as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the U.S. secretary of state who stayed at the Waldorf during the U.N. sessions. These hotels are also known to host several prominent business leaders. Attacking these locations would create chaos in the financial and diplomatic aspects of New York.
The planned attacks on the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge would create chaos in transportation leading in and out of Manhattan. If successful, police, civilians, and other respondents would have major issues entering and leaving the city.
The attackers also discussed attacks on the New York Diamond District which is an area populated by a large population of Jewish businessmen and attacking this center would be similar to "hitting Israel itself". Similar attacks, later known as 2008 Mumbai attacks, were carried out in Mumbai.
The terrorists suspected President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to be present in the hotels and the attackers intended to infiltrate the hotels using disguises as employees to get close to the president. The other attacks in the city were used as distractions and to inflict chaos throughout the city. Bombs would be used on the bridges while the other terrorists would raid the hotels with guns. Even if the President had not been there, the attacks throughout the city would have caused a large number of deaths.
The FBI had been closely monitoring this plan throughout 1992-1993.
Emad Salem was used as an intelligence asset during this whole investigations and one year prior. Salem had experienced a man being tortured when he was young so he wanted revenge on radical Islam. FBI agents first used him to find the illegal selling of weapons and green cards from Russians and then he agreed to help the FBI during this plot. Salem was used to get information of the terrorists and information on the details of the plan. He proved to be extremely influential foiling this plot.
Salem agreed to spy for the FBI if his identity was never revealed. The FBI insisted that he wear a recording device so he could testify in later trials but he did not agree to this. The FBI then only used him as an "intelligence asset".
The FBI had also been monitoring the terrorists through video surveillance hidden in the terrorists' safe house where bombs had been being developed. Combined, the video surveillance and usage of an inside man greatly contributed into foiling the plot.
Prosecution and Aftermath
The conspirators were arrested on June 24, 1993. On October 1, 1995, Rahman and nine others were convicted by a New York jury on 48 of 50 charges, including seditious conspiracy, solicitation to murder Mubarak, conspiracy to murder Mubarak, solicitation to attack a U.S. military installation, and conspiracy to conduct bombings.
According to lead prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, at the trial it was shown that Sudan had "close ties" to Rahman and the other plotters. Sudanese diplomats assisted the planned attack on the United Nations Headquarters.
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and the nine others were convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from 25 years to life in prison.
The FBI took 2 years to investigate the plot which showed that a slow approach to terrorist investigations was beneficial. James Kallstrom who was an ex-FBI officer said "You obviously want to play things out so you can fully identify the breadth and scope of the conspiracy. Obviously, the most efficient and effective way to do that is to bring it down to the last stage." This took precedence in many other terrorist cases to follow. The general public gave criticisms over this strategy but the FBI still leans toward slow approaches to terrorist plots.
Salem had eventually testified against Rahman and other terrorists despite saying that he would not. After the trial, Salem had received a large sum of money and was put on a witness protection program.
- 2009 Bronx terrorism plot
- November 2008 Mumbai attacks - Mumbai attacks were primilarly based upon the New York City landmark bomb plot
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