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World Trade Center Bombing: 1993-94 & 1997

Boastful Admissions

On September 5, 1996, a jury found the three defendants guilty on all of the counts against them. Before they were sentenced, however, Yousef stood trial for complicity in the World Trade Center plot. When that trial began on August 3, 1997, Yousef's codefendant was a former schoolmate and chemical engineer named Eyad Ismoil. Prosecutors accused Ismoil of driving the explosive-laden van into the World Trade Center's underground garage and helping Yousef set the fuse. Ismoil had flown to Jordan that night, but was later arrested and extradited to the United States. Ismoil pleaded his innocence and protested that he thought the van contained only soap and shampoo.

Prosecutors ridiculed Ismoil's claim. For two months they introduced forensic testimony about residue and fingerprints found at bomb-making sites in New Jersey; telephone receipts; and other evidence linking both defendants to a Jersey City apartment where the bomb had been made.

The most damaging testimony against Yousef stemmed from his alleged boasting to American agents on his flight back to the United States from Pakistan. Aboard the plane, Yousef allegedly claimed that he had masterminded the plot and had initially considered mounting a poison gas attack. He hoped the bomb would topple one Trade Center tower into the other and kill at least 250,000 people. He was disappointed in the results of the blast, but stood on the New Jersey waterfront to watch the smoke from the fire across the river before he fled the country.

Neither of the defendants took the witness stand in their own defense, leaving the arguments to their lawyers. Defense attorney Kulcsar characterized Yousef's alleged admissions of guilt as illogically self-incriminating. Kulcsar wondered why the damaging confessions had never been recorded. Ismoil's attorney, Louis Aidala, admitted that his client had helped load the van but had been ignorant of its deadly contents.

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