New York pays tribute to the victims of the first attack on the Twin Towers

On Feb. 26, 1993, a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda attacked the financial center for the first time. Six people died and more than 1,000 were reported injured.

New York commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first attack on the World Trade Center perpetrated by Al Qaeda. Governor Kathy Hochul, along with historic representatives of the city and family members of the six dead and more than 1,000 injured, gathered at Ground Zero to pay tribute to the victims.

On Feb. 26, 1993, a car bomb parked in a subway parking garage beneath the Twin Towers exploded around 12:15 p.m. local time. The force of the more than 1,300 pounds of explosives caused a huge crater on the edge of the North Tower. Robert Kirkpatrick, William Macko, Stephen A. Knapp, John DiGiovanni, Wilfredo Mercado and Monica Rodriguez, who was pregnant, were killed in the attack. In addition, more than 1,000 people were reported injured.

At first there were doubts about who carried out the attack. Authorities came to suspect the founder of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. However, minutes after the explosion, security forces found part of the body of the vehicle bomb in the rubble. This clue was decisive in finding the perpetrators and certifying that it was a jihadist attack. Authorities learned that the vehicle bomb was a rental, and the first terrorist was arrested while trying to retrieve the lease deposit.

Investigators concluded that the attack was carried out by an isolated terrorist cell with links to Al Qaeda and led by Ramzi Yousef. The cell was dismantled a few months after the attack, but Yousef managed to flee and hide from justice for two years.

Ramzi Yousef, leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing cell. He is serving a life sentence in the United States (File image).
Ramzi Yousef / Wikimedia Commons

In 1995, Yousef was captured in Pakistan and deported to the United States. A New York court sentenced him to life in prison. He is serving his sentence at ADX Florence prison in Colorado.