1 minute read

World Trade Center Bombing: 1993-94 & 1997

Far-reaching Conspiracy Alleged

Ajaj, Ayyad, Salameh, and Abouhalima were charged with a total of 38 crimes, including explosive destruction of property, conspiracy, and interstate transportation of explosives. All the suspects except Ajaj were followers of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind cleric who preached militant Islamic doctrine from a Jersey City storefront mosque. In late August 1993, Sheik Abdel Rahman and a dozen of his adherents were indicted for plotting "a war of urban terrorism against the United States." Under a rarely used seditious conspiracy law, the sheik was accused of guiding the group, whose alleged targets included the United Nations, New York's FBI office, and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels connecting New York with New Jersey. The defendants were also accused of planning to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and American politicians sympathetic to Israel.

Federal authorities declared that the World Trade Center bombing was one of the violent acts within this wider conspiracy. Salameh, Ayyad, Abouhalima, and Ajaj were named as coconspirators in the new case, but no fresh charges were added to those they already faced when their trial began on September 14, 1993. Judge Kevin T. Duffy was sufficiently concerned that publicity about the bombing had been so pervasive that he ordered an extra 5,000 jury duty summonses to be mailed. In fact, a jury was selected in less than a week.

Although none of the accused men had been seen at the site of the explosion, prosecutors attempted to tie them to the crime by sheer weight of circumstantial evidence. An entire month crawled by as hundreds of forensic exhibits were introduced, ranging from macabre photos of dead victims to dry architectural analyses of the World Trade Center's internal structure.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994World Trade Center Bombing: 1993-94 1997 - Van Deposit Leads To Arrests, Far-reaching Conspiracy Alleged, Defendants Tied To Van, Bomb Manuals