World Trade Center Bombing

Published: 1993
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
SLP2000072107-21 JULY 2000- ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA: Special Counsel John C. Danforth makes references to a photograph of the Branch Davidian complex, while holding a press conference, discussing his findings in the confrontation at the Mt. Carmel Complex, in Waco, TX., July 21. Danforth, a former U.S. Senator, (R-MO), has come to the conclusion that the U.S. Government could not be held at fault for the April 19, 1993 deaths of over 80 people, when a fire consumed the cult's home. bg/Bill Greenblatt UPI

Howard Dicus: 1993 was the year Colombian law enforcement finally got its man. Medellin drug kingpin Pablo Escobar died in a hail of police bullets.

Unknown Speaker: “We have lost many lives in this effort. Some of our best men have lost their lives.”

Howard Dicus: The President of Colombia hailed this as a great victory in the war on drugs …

President César Gaviria Trujillo: “We are satisfied, and now the criminal organization that still operates in Colombia has to know that we have all the elements and all things to dismantle those criminal organizations.”

Howard Dicus: But by year's end, the rival Cali Cartel was stronger than ever.

There were a lot of terrorist bombings in 1993. The President of Sri Lanka and ten other people died thanks to a man who strapped explosives to his body.

Priceless artwork was damaged in a museum bombing in Florence. Bombs exploded in the financial districts of Bombay, London and New York. Americans used to terrorism happening someplace else were frightened by the bombing at New York's World Trade Center.

Unknown Speaker: “Fifty-five people had called and claimed responsibility.”

Howard Dicus: FBI Director William Sessions, who was under fire and would later be fired for having agents take his wife shopping, drove his investigators hard, and when they raided the suspects' stronghold he gave the news himself.

Director William Sessions: “At about 1:30 a.m. this morning, SWAT teams entered the bomb factory in Jamaica, Queens. As we entered the bomb factory, the five subjects were actually mixing the witch's brew.”

Howard Dicus: Prosecutor Mary Jo White revealed that the suspects, followers of a radical Muslim cleric, were thought to have been planning a lot more than just the World Trade Center bombing.

Mary Jo White: “We have today arrested and charged eight defendants with a conspiracy and the attempted bombing of the United Nations and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.”

Howard Dicus: By the time of the Trade Center bombing, America had already gotten one major episode of violence in 1993: the mass suicide at the Waco, Texas cult compound of a man born Vernon Howell, but who called himself David Koresh.

David Koresh: “I told the people all along that our intention is never to have to use these weapons. The only problem with the people on the outside is that they do not understand what we believe.”

Howard Dicus: Koresh's followers killed four agents who raided to check out reports Koresh was stockpiling guns.

Unknown Speaker: “We were in the process of attempting to serve a search warrant.”

David Koresh: “They started firing at me. I'd fell back in the door, and the bullets started coming through the door, and so then what happened was some of the … some of the young men and stuff started firing on them.”

Howard Dicus: A long standoff ensued. It was a trial for America's new Attorney General.

Attorney General Janet Reno: "I, Janet Reno, do solemnly … "

Howard Dicus: Janet Reno became Attorney General after two other nominees pulled out for using undocumented aliens as nannies.

Attorney General Janet Reno: " … the United States … "

Unknown Speaker: " … against all enemies, foreign and domestic … "

Attorney General Janet Reno: " … against all enemies, foreign and domestic … "

Howard Dicus: Now just weeks after settling in, Reno had to decide whether to storm the Koresh compound again. Some people wanted simply to wait.

Unknown Speaker: “I think he's just a little boy that hadn't really grown up...”

Howard Dicus: Koresh's grandmother ...

Unknown Speaker: “ And he's had a -- maybe a sad life, I don't know; but to me, he seems like he's just somebody that needs to be loved.”

Howard Dicus: Attorney General Reno heard sometimes apocalyptic rhetoric from Koresh. She decided it was time to storm the compound. Koresh's people reacted by setting fire to their own quarters. The FBI's Bob Ricks.

Bob Ricks: "We heard them referring to others in the compound saying, 'The fire has been lit. The fire has been lit.'"

Howard Dicus: 72 people died. Congressional hearings were held. John Conyers thought Reno should have held off.

Congressman John Conyers: “There is at least one member in the Congress that isn't going to rationalize the death of two dozen children.”

Attorney General Janet Reno: “I haven't tried to rationalize the death of children, Congressman; I feel more strongly about it than you will ever know!”

Howard Dicus: 1993 was the year a prolife activist made the ultimate protest at an abortion clinic. Abortionist David Gunn was shot in the back and died.

Helen Alvare: “Killing in the name of prolife really makes a mockery of the prolife ethic and the prolife cause.”

Howard Dicus: That condemnation of the killing came not from a prochoice activist, but from Helen Alvare of the Catholic conference.

Violence was a big issue in America all year. A Minneapolis study found that in just one year, more than two million Americans had come under physical attack at work, and Teacher's Union President Keith Geiger had his alarming statistic …

President Keith Geiger: “Today, January 14, 1993, some 100,000 American children will go to school carrying guns.”

Howard Dicus: Congress again passed the Brady Bill, slowing down gun purchases. It had died twice in the Bush years; President Clinton signed it.

As a reminder that America has no monopoly on violence, it was in Germany in 1993 that a man stabbed tennis star Monica Seles, because he preferred Steffi Graf.

This is the Year in Review from UPI.