This past February 26 marked 30 years since the first World Trade Center attack, which killed six people and injured thousands. I happened to be in Manhattan that day and remember the smoke rising from the North Tower. It was a frightful day and an ominous foreboding of the murder of nearly 3000 innocent people on 9/11.
Many questions were raised after the first WTC bombing in 1993. Unfortunately, leadership failed to learn valuable lessons from this 1993 act of Middle Eastern terrorism on American soil. The main question is how a second attack could have been allowed to take place at the very same targeted location. I have never gotten a good answer to this question. The mistakes and failures occurred on so many levels. It is a credit to law enforcement that acts of terrorism on the scale of 9/11 have not occurred in America since. Valuable lessons were learned from 9/11 but could have been learned from the first WTC bombing and unfortunately were not.
However, mistakes were made even before the first WTC bombing. On November 5, 1990, Rabbi Meir Kahane was assassinated by El Sayyid Nosair around 9 p.m. at the New York Marriott East Side Hotel. Police carted off 47 boxes of documents, paramilitary manuals, maps, and diagrams of buildings including the World Trade Center from Nosair’s residence. The overwhelming evidence that a network of Muslim radicals connected to Osama bin Laden was swept under the rug. Had due diligence been done, not only could 9/11 been prevented, but the first bombing as well. The FBI had placed an informant by the name of Emad Salem in the middle of the New York group of Muslims aligned with Nosair. The informant later became the personal bodyguard for Sheik Abdel-Rahman (known as “the blind Sheik”). Sheik Abdel-Rahman was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” for the 1993 WTC bombing. In 1992, Salem warned the FBI more than once that radical Muslims were planning a large bombing in New York City. The FBI disregarded his dire warnings. Had the assassination of Rabbi Kahane been taken more seriously and investigated properly, Salem’s remonstrations about a serious bomb threat to New York City would have been heeded rather than called “tall tales.”
Had the proper lessons been learned from the Rabbi Kahane assassination and the first WTC attack, certainly the second WTC apocalypse could have been prevented. I hope we have become better at preventing these catastrophes now 30 years later.