On Friday February 26th 1993, 12.17pm, just after noon, the lunch time crowd from the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York were routinely buzzing around, exiting and entering the WTC building, when suddenly a terrorist bomb planted ironically near the secret services car park exploded (BBC.CO.UK, 1993).
This paper will demonstrate a comprehensive and detailed depiction of the 1993 World Trade Centre (WTC) attack, exploring the background, motivation, and objective of the actual attack, and the group acclaiming responsibility and justification for it. Concluding an analysis on whether or not the responsible group could be seen as freedom fighters.
In addition a summary analysis of the 1993 attack will depict, the significance and relationship the fundamental key players of the 1993 group had in relation to the 9/11 attack.
Eyewitness Bruce Pomper was aged 34 in 1993, and working as a stock broker in the WTC, he summed up the bomb attack with these chilling words;
“It felt like an airplane hit the building (BBC.CO.UK, 1993)”.
The most significant damage of the 1993 WTC bombing was the trauma and suffrage it inflicted upon the family of the victims, who were later identified as, John DiGiovanni, a 45 year old Dental Equipment Salesman from Valley Stream, New York; Robert Kirkpatrick a 61 one year old, Maintenance Supervisor from Suffern, New York; Steve Knapp, a 48 year old Port Authority Mechanical Supervisor from Manhattan, New York; Monica Rodriguez Smith, a 34 year old Port Authority Office Assistant, from Seaford, New York; William Macko a 57 year old Port Authority Mechanical Supervisor from Baonne, New Jersey; and Wilfredo Mercado a 37 year old Purchasing Agent from Brooklyn, New York (Bookrags.com, Retrieved 29 May 07). A further 1,000 persons were injured from the attack (9/11 Commission Report, p.72).
It would later be established that a yellow Ryder truck/van rental had been converted into a mobile truck bomb and placed near the Secret Service car park on level B2 in World Trade Centre, in New York City (9/11 Commission Report, p.71).
The explosion, created a massive 30 meter diameter hole through the concrete and steel building structure that penetrated through seven stories (9/11 Commission Report, p.71).
The truck bomb generated a pressure vacuum of over one GPa, with an estimated detonation velocity of about 15,000 feet per second or 4.5 km per second (Bookrags.com, Retrieved 29 May 2007). The complex 1310 lb or 600 kg bomb was made of Urea, Nitroglycerin, Sulfuric Acid, Aluminum azide, Magnesium azide and Hydrogen (Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007). The plotters added sodium cyanide to fatal cocktail in the hope that the vapors would seep through the ventilation shaft and elevators for maximum body count effect (Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007). The utility vehicle used by the attackers had four 6 meter long fuses, which were totally covered in surgical tape (Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007). A cigarette lighter was used to light the fuse which would in turn trigger the bomb within twelve minutes (Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007).
In an official interview Ramzi Yousef who was found to be the key player behind the attack boasted that he actually had anticipated and hoped that the explosion would kill at least 250,000 people (9/11 Commission Report, p.72). Surprisingly, the cost of the bomb, which did not include the rental for the utility truck, was a mere three hundred US Dollars (Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007).
Remarkably the FBI was able to trace the utility truck to a rental company in New Jersey, by firstly identifying the originating vehicle which housed the bomb. Then, secondly by having identified a specific component of the truck, which listed a confidential manufacturers ID number, (National Geographic, 1 June 2007). FBI agents subsequently then followed the trail to the New Jersey Truck Rental company which in turn revealed that a Mohammed Salameh had rented the truck and later reported it stolen in order to reclaim the deposit on the rental, which was said to be around $400.00USD (9/11 Commission Report, p.72).
Subsequently Salameh was arrested by law enforcement offices on the 4th March 1993 (9/11 Commission Report, p.72). From Salameh, the FBI were able to trace the explosion back to Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyard, Mamoud Abouhalima, Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Rahmin Yasin, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, (9/11 Commission Report, p.72; Bookrags.com, Retrieved, 29 May 2007), establishing that the mastermind behind the attack was Ramzi Yousef.
Ramzi Yousef, is believed to have been born in Kuwait, however officially he is deemed to have originated from Baluchistan province of Pakistan, as did his father and uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was also implicated in the 1993 WTC attack (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007). Yousef was educated in Wales and Kuwait graduating in 1989 with a degree in engineering from the Swansea Institute of Higher Education, Swansea, formally the West Glamorgan Institute (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007).
Yousef did well in mathematics and science and was able to secure employment with the National Computer Centre for the Ministry of Planning in Kuwait as a communications engineer (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007).
It was in Wales where it is said that he joined the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007). In the late 1980’s Yousef had begun regular travel to Pakistan. Although Yousef had been identified as the key player in the 1993 WTC bombing he was not arrested until 1995 (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007). His arrest was a result of the Philippines authorities investigating the Philippines Airlines flight 434 bomb explosion (9/11 Commission Report, p.147).
In this later terrorist attack Yousef posed an Italian by the name of Armaldo Forlani (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007). Taking a flight from Manila to Cebu he placed an explosive device under his designated seat, 26K (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007).
In Cebu he disembarked the flight which was continuing on Tokyo Japan. Additional passengers boarded the flight, one of them a 24 year old businessman by the name of Haruki Ikegami, who ended up seated in 26K (Wikipedia, Retrieved 29th May 2007). Eventually after take off the bomb exploded, killing Ikegami.
The explosion damaged the aircraft’s steering, nevertheless the captain of the flight was able to make an emergency landing at Okinawa, Japan, saving some 270 passengers and twenty odd crew members (9/11 Commission Report, p.147).
The flight to Cebu, was more notoriously known and associated to the “Bojinka” plan, which was orchestrated by Yousef and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) (9/11 Commission Report, p.147). Yousef had been living in Manila, and planned around 11 airline explosions, the assassination of the Pope and President Bill Clinton (9/11 Commission Report, p.147), on their visits to the Philippines. One of Yousef’s attacks included crashing a passenger or airline freighter into the CIA headquarters (9/11 Commission Report, p.345). Yousef was subsequently apprehended by authorities in Islamabad, Pakistan on the 27th February 1995, after an associated turned him in, (9/11 Commission Report, p.148).
Authorities at one stage investigated the possibility that Yousef was loosely associated as an Iraq intelligence operative and that there might have been a possible link between 1993 WTC attack and Iraq (9/11 Commission Report, p.336), which would have meant fore knowledge of the attack by Sadam Hussein.
Initial investigations traced Yousef to Abdul Rahmin Yasin, who was one of the original 7 men suspected and linked to the 1993 WTC attack, and his subsequent purported association to Iraqi intelligence. More on Yasin will be discussed later in this essay.
Mohammed A. Salameh, born in Amman to Jordanian and Palestinian parents on the 1st September 1967 or 68, was a University ‘drop out’ allegedly after being unable to complete engineering and legal studies in Jordan (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). Salameh had entered the United States around 1988 on a tourist visa and subsequently became an illegal alien after he stayed in the US when his visa expired. He resided in an area known as Egyptian City New Jersey with 6 other Muslims (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). In March 1994 Salameh was convicted in a US court for his involvement of the 1993 WTC attack (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). He was sentenced to a total of 240 years imprisonment after evidence presented in court identified him as the individual who rented the Ryder van used in the attack (9/11 Commission Report, p.72). Additional scientific evidence identified chemical nitrates along with his finger prints on the van’s rental agreement (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007).
Salameh’s ironic apprehension came as a result after he made several attempts to claim a refund on the deposit paid for the van after he had claimed it had been stolen, the FBI lured him into a sting operation which was based on the pretext that the rental company was going to actually refund his deposit, as such Salameh turned up to collect the refund and hence it lead to his arrest (9/11 Commission Report, p.72).
Ahmed Mohammad Ajaj, also known as Ibraham Salameh, Mohamed Azan and Khurram Khan born in the West Bank, and subsequently immigrated to the United States, where he settled in Houston Texas (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007). Received training in the Khaldan camp in weapons and explosives during May 1992 (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007). By June 1992 he was known to be involved in bomb building courses in Pakistan (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007). Although Ajaj had been incarcerated in a US prison until three days after the 1993 WTC attack, the FBI in the pursuing investigations he was linked back to the original conspiracy and planning of the attack (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
Ajaj’s involvement came apparent when the FBI investigation attained critical evidence which revealed that he had been engaged in telephone conversations with Yousef, whilst in prison (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
The telephone calls had cleverly been diverted through the ‘Big 5 Hamburgers’ in Dallas (LA Times 14 November 2001), and Ajaj’s lawyer which allowed the two to communicate directly (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
In one of the telephone conversation which were obviously recorded by US authorities and later translated after the 1993 attack it was revealed that Yousef had sought permission to take claim of Ajaj’s belonging, which had been the result of a court order, compelling the authorities to return such property to Ajaj (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
The translated transcripts of the recordings it was revealed that initially Ajaja agreed to Yousef’s request (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
However, Ajaja must have considered the implications of Yousef’s request in more detail. Ajaj changed his mind and suggested to Yousef that in doing so, he, (Yousef), might compromise the operation (9/11 Commission Report).
FBI investigations would later establish that Ajaj and Yousef traveled first class from Peshawar to Kennedy Airport, via Karachi (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007). They were both subsequently detained upon arrival in New York, on the 1st September 1992, at which time Immigration officers noted a number of discrepancies on their passports (9/11 Commission Report). A search of their luggage revealed five additional forged, altered and or illegally purchased passports of Saudi, Iraqi, Swedish, British and Jordanian origins (9/11 Commission Report). Additional intelligence was found in their possession which consisted of identification cards, bank, educational and medical records (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
Ajaj, during a second immigration interview had claimed that his name was Khurram Khan and that he was a member of the Swedish press core. In his luggage immigration officers found the Jordanian and Saudi passports and a plane ticket in the name of Mohammed Azan, bomb making manuals, videos, and further written material which depicted instructions on how to assemble weapons and explosives, documents which confirmed his attendance at terrorist training camps anti-American and Israeli literature, two rubber stamps which were designed to alter the seals on the passports, and documents on how to forge official documents (Wikipedia, Retrieved 30th May 2007).
Authorities would later conclude and suggest that Yousef had masterminded a plan in which Yasin would be used as a decoy with the US immigration officials, thus allowing Yousef free passage into the US territory (9/11 Commission Report).
It would later be revealed in the 9/11 Commission’s report, that after the scrutiny Ajaj and Yousef received upon their arrival, Yousef was released because he had explained away the passport forgeries by making a claim for political asylum (9/11 Commission Report). On the other hand Ajaj would remain in custody until 3 days after the 1993 WTC attack (9/11 Commission Report)..
Nidal Ayyard, was allegedly born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents in 1968, later immigrating to the United States and subsequently acquired a degree from Rutgers University in Chemical and biochemical engineering (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). Around March 1991 he attained US citizenship and in 1992 was in Amman Jordan getting married (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). He had been employed by Allied Signal a company situated in New Jersey which manufactured aerospace and automotive products. Ayyard was convicted for his involvement in the 1993 bombing in March 1994, receiving a 240 year sentence (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007).
Ayyad’s involvement was traced back to a joint bank account he held with Mohammed Salameh (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). The bank account had received on at least one occasion s wire transfer of 8,000 US Dollars from a source in Europe.
Investigating officials established that Ayyad had accompanied Salameh on the 23rd February 1993 when Salameh rented the vehicle which had been used in the attack (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007). Officials also later established that Salameh had telephoned Ayyard a total of four times the day before the WTC attack from the storage warehouse where the truck bomb chemicals had been constructed into their fatal compounded element (MIPT, Retrieved 31 May 2007).
Mamoud Abouhalima, resided with an Egyptian by the name of El Sayyid Nosair who had been responsible for shooting and killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane of the Jewish Defense League at the Marriott Hotel on the November 5th 1990 (Ragavan, 2003, Retrieved 29 May 2007).
Salameh and Abouhalima had come to the attention of the New York Police Department and the FBI after they had been found in Nosair apartment when a joint task force had raided the apartment almost immediately after the shooting of Kahane (Ragavan, 2003, Retrieved 29 May 2007)..
During the 1993 WTC attack investigation authorities further linked Salameh and Abouhalima when it was found that Salameh had used Abouhalima’s mail drop address, known as el-Gabrowny’s in Brooklyn on the rental agreement (Ragavan, 2003, Retrieved 29 May 2007).
Abdul Rahman Yasin, also known as Abdel Rahman Yasin, Abdul Rahman Said Yasin, Aboud Yasin, Abdul Rahman S. Taha, and Abdul Rahman S. Taher. Yasin was born in Bloomington, Indiana; USA shortly after is father had commenced his PhD studies (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007). When Yasin’s father completed his PhD the family returned to Iraq.
On the 21st June 1992 Yasin applied for a passport providing his US birth certificate as proof of citizenship (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
Yasin had been picked up in a combined police and FBI raid at his mother’s residence in New Jersey (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
According to the Wikipedia profile on Yasin, he had been voluntarily involved in aiding the FBI with information on how and where the 1993 WTC truck bomb was manufactured and transported (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
Even though Yasin was initially indicted as one of the seven men involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, unconfirmed reports suggest that the US attorney in charge of the WTC prosecution sanctioned his release from custody (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
After his release from custody as early as March 5, 1993, Yasin apparently returned to Iraq, where he apparently was seen and identified by an ABC news report who had claimed that a neighbor said that Yasin worked for the Iraqi government (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
Extreme controversy surrounded Yasin, in as much that he was released from custody and allowed to travel to Iraq, where he was reportedly to have resided freely for sometime, later ending up in an Iraqi prison (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007). The controversy continues when attempts by Iraqi officials were made to extradite him back to the US (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007). In any event he remained at large and unaccountable to this date for his alleged involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing, supposedly still in Iraq (Wikipedia, Retrieved 28th May 2007).
Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) believed to have as many as twenty-seven aliases (Wikipedia, Retrieved 24th May 2007). Conflicting information is recorded for his date of birth, which is either the 1st March 1964 or the 14th April 1965 (Wikipedia, Retrieved 24th May 2007). Whilst in custody at Guantanamo Bay in March 2007 KSM is alleged to have confessed to a large number of terrorist attacks expanding over a twenty year period (Combatant Status Review Tribunal, transcripts).
The attacks KSM is said to have confessed to, included the 1993 and 9/11 WTC attacks, and the Bali night club bombings, amongst others (Combatant Status Review Tribunal, transcripts).
KSM is said to have been initially inspired by his nephew, Ramzi Yousef and his (Yousef’s) concepts and plans for future attacks, especially the idea that involved the use of airliners (9/11 Commission Report, p.73).
Gradually the two appeared to bond closer in their notorious activities, evidence of this can be ascertained from KSM involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing and various communications the two had with each other during the planning stage of the attack (9/11 Commission Report, p.73). Additional evidence attained from the wire transfers KSM made to Yousef support the bonding and mutual aspirations, in addition to the time they spent together in Manila during 1994 (9/11 Commission Report, p.73).
The significance of this connection would change the world for ever, as KSM would later become the man the FBI identified as having played a part in the 9/11 attack (9/11 Commission Report, p.73), and eventually allegedly confessing to the attack (Combatant Status Review Tribunal, transcripts).
It is difficult to determine the exact course of motivation for Ramzi Yousef’s. Parachini & Tucker (2001) suggest that Yousef had an extreme “inchoate mixture of visceral hatred and personal affirmation, wrapped in a variety of geopolitical rationales” (unknown page number). The attack was designed to create a maximum civilian casualty count (USA v. Yousef et al, page 4721), and further for the attack to create maximum psychological disruption (Martin, 2003, p. 244). Thus creating a scene of total chaotic confusion, in which it was clearly anticipated that the mass media would en-capture, the predicted horror and chaos. Evidence is clearly visible of this, in Yousef’s own direct contact to various newspapers. Parachini & Tucker (unknown page number) add that Yousef had an extreme hated for the US support for Israel’s dominance in the Middle East. Yousef himself had conceded that his motivation was not a religious one, but rather an “anti occupation crusade against the USA and Israel (Parachini & Tucker, unknown page number)” Parachini & Tucker (unknown page number).
It is clear that Yousef and his associates can be labeled as terrorist if only for their willingness to kill discriminately (Richardson, 2006). However it must be acknowledged that due to the lack of religious inspiration for all of Yousef’s attacks, he must be seen as an individual who is a materialistic inspired terrorist with an extreme hatred for the US and Israel.
This is in direct difference to Abouhalima, Ajaj Ayyad and KSM who expressed religious support to the 1993 WTC attack during their trail (United States v Salameh et al). The prosecutions exhibit number 196, which was the original letter claiming responsibility for the 1993 WTC attack, showed that some of the fundamental motivations for the perpetrators had been in response to the US political, economical and military support to Israel and an expression of grievances towards other so-called dictators within the middle east region (Parachini & Tucker, unknown page number).
The 9/11 report revealed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others were not thought to be directly associated as members of and organization such as Al Qaeda. As far as Yousef was concerned evidence depicted him more of a freelance mercenary type that appeared to roam the globe offering his services for hire to extreme fundamentalists, (9/11 Commission Report, p.59). When President George W, Bush received his daily presidential brief on the 6th August 2001 (9/11 Commission Report, p.261),
Yousef was depicted by Osama Bin Laden as a man who deserved immense praise for his actions (9/11 Commission Report, p.261). Furthermore Bin Laden in a television interview during 1997 and 1998 stated that Al Qaeda followers should follow the example set by Ramzi Yousef (9/11 Commission Report, p.261).
It would be not until after 9/11 in which the motivation of the 1993 WTC attack would become more apparent. The similarities of Yousef’s 1993 target and object had become an interest to bin Laden and the Al Qaeda clan simply because of the common cause against the US and Israel.
Evidence in the 9/11 report also indicated that it was Yousef’s uncle who later joined targeted activities by Bin Laden after having had several meetings with Osama bin Laden during 1999 and other Al Qaeda associates (9/11 Commission Report, p.59). It is obvious that Yousef’s prior planes to utilize planes in an attack could have been conceptualized further as the basis for the 9/11 attack, from such meetings.
The ultimate question must be asked and that is, had the immigration authorities initially detailed Yousef and followed through in an investigation, could the 1993 WTC and 9/11 been averted?
The sequence of events surrounding the allowance of Yousef to entering the US and the detention of Ajaj seem to be slightly tainted. Authorities had confirmed that the two were traveling together and that both men had in their possession not just forged identities but written material that can easily be assessed as material of interest. As such the authority’s suspicion either would have or should have been further alerted. However this was not the case, thus it can imply a number of scenarios, one that the authorities made a grave error in judgment; two that they lacked the professional assessment ability to conclude the nature of the legal immigration breaches the two had already obviously committed; three that the two had already come under the authorities radars so to say, and thus one was let go in order for the intelligence services such as the CIA or the FBI to follow through and establish further leads and intelligence.
In regards to the group’s activities to the 1993 WTC attack, this essay has shown that the perpetrators managed to conceal themselves easily within the Middle Eastern communities in the US. This essay has also shown that over time terrorist learn from previous attacks and go on to master their individual so-called par military talents for further attacks, and furthermore, that they are willing to attack a particular target more than once, if such a target has significant ideological meaning.
In the 1993 and 9/11 attacks the WTC was seen as Americas centre to economical dominance over them. This essay has also proven that not all terrorist are motivated by political or religious inspirations, as was the case with Yousef, and in that terrorist cells operate often independently to organizations such as Al Qaeda, but that an informal alliance exists in what they consider their over-all objective. Meaning that groups such as Al Qaeda lend support, to such groups, and subsequently also utilize the publicity generated from a successful attack in order to inspire further attacks for their own objectives, as was the case with Bin Laden’s public support for Yousef in relation to a number of the 1993 WTC group.
In many cases terrorist organization such as HAMAS and the Tamil Tiger identify themselves as freedom fighters, and in such cases the circumstances could be debatable. However in regards to the 1993 Attack, the motivation and objective was not solidly associated to any group which claimed to fight and free a specific ethnic group from the control of another force. Although evidence in the statements and trial transcripts for the 1993 WTC attacks did display discourse with the involvement the US had with Israel.
Whether it is agreed or not by the 1993 WTC attackers, their actions could not be considered the actions of freedom fighters.
The end result found that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York was able to conclude a guilty verdict against Ajaj, Salameth, Ayyard, Abouhalima, Mohammed and Yousef (9/11 Commission Report, p.72). Yousef as the mastermind behind the 1993 WTC attack received a life sentence, plus 240 years, a fine of four and half millions dollars and was ordered to pay 240 million US Dollars in restitution (United States v Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and Eyad Ismoil).
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