Remembering the WTC bombing 20 years later

Posted at 11:20 PM, Feb 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-26 23:20:46-05

For those of us who covered the story, it’s doesn’t feel like 20 years have gone by.

I can clearly remember the news flashing through the newsroom that cold Friday afternoon that a transformer explosion had rocked the World Trade Center.  It would be hours later before we would learn that this was no accident….that  terrorists had struck our shores and killed six Americans

The names of the six who died, along with the unborn child of one of the victims, were recited during a noontime memorial at the 9/11 Memorial.  A bell was sounded at 12:18, the exact moment of the explosion, as solemn-faced family and friends of victims observed one minute of silence. The names of those who died in 1993 are inscribed along with the names of the 3,000 victims of 9/11.

A rental van loaded with 1,500 pounds of explosives was driven in to an underground garage.  The blast tore open a crater five stories deep and half a football field wide. Four of those killed were Port Authority employees.

Investigators found fragments of a rear axle of a van in the rubble, along with the vehicles identification number.  It was traced to a Ryder rental agency in Jersey City, and eventually the man who rented it.  Police tracked down six Islamic extremists, who were found guilty of the terror plot.

Former FBI agent John O’Neil was convinced the 1993 bombing was the work of Osama Bin Laden and warned that he would strike again.  He did eight years later.  O’Neill was among those killed. It was his first day on the job as Chief of Security at the World Trade Center.

During a memorial mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, former Mayor Dinkins recalled the sense of  was unthinkable powerlessness we all felt after the 1993 attack.  It was a sense of powerlessness surpassed only by the sense of loss we all felt eight years later when, what we thought was unthinkable happened, terrorists returned and brought down the towering edifices. As we remember the past, we look ahead to the new building rising on hallowed ground….a building that serves as a tribute to those who died and as a symbol of America’s resilience to recover.