The world changed on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, forever altering America. Due to the violent impact the event had on the nation, it's possible to forget the first strike on New York's Twin Towers: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (WTCB).
The first strike against the World Trade Center happened almost a decade prior to 2001, but the two plots are linked in several ways. The WTCB can be looked at as a sort of trial run to 9/11. The goal - to topple the Twin Towers - was the same, as was the motivation and international power behind it. In fact, some of the very same individuals who plotted the WTCB managed to maintain their freedom long enough to be involved in 9/11.
The 1993 WTCB was, for the most part, a failed operation, but it helped set the stage for the horror and destruction that would occur eight years later.
The 1993 plot against the World Trade Center failed in its primary goal by something that all New Yorkers struggle with: parking. The yellow rental van housing the explosive device was driven to the WTC’s underground parking garage, but Yousef failed to park it close enough to the concrete foundations of Tower 1.
Had he found a closer parking spot, his plan may have succeeded. Instead, most of the damage was done to the parking garage itself. His plan an abject failure, Yousef escaped to Pakistan hours later.
Though the 1993 WTCB failed to bring down the Twin Towers, it was incredibly scary for those involved. The blast shook the entire building and caused mass panic inside. Smoke reached as high as the 93rd floor, and smoke inhalation was responsible for a large portion of the injuries received that day.
All power to the tower was cut, leaving several people stuck in elevators for hours, including a class of kindergartners.
The WTCB resulted in the loss of six, including four Port Authority employees and two business people. One of the Port Authority employees who perished was a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 other people sustained harm, including WTC employees and first responders.
Most injuries resulted from smoke inhalation, fire, and the mass exodus of evacuating both towers.
The WTCB took the lives of six people, but it could have been much, much worse. The investigation revealed that the conspirators had a large stockpile of cyanide they acquired while planning. It appears that at one point the van was meant to be loaded with cyanide, but that part of the plan was later abandoned.
If the cyanide had been included, the blast would have produced a chemical weapon spread via gas. As the smoke of the device reached as high as the 93rd floor, it's easy to imagine just how many people this would have reached.