Author Archive

Terrorism: Incapable of Definition

To me, given my knowledge and understanding of terrorism through the media and as an aspiring member of the media, I would define terrorism as conscious acts of extreme violence toward civilians and political leaders for the advancement of a cause. This goes beyond personal grudges and grievances, and is done on an organized scale in order to inflict the maximum amount of damage and harm, securing attention to a cause. Read more

World Trade Center ’93

Team 3: Wilford Eiteman-Pang, Jacqueline Ekama, Janessa Hilliard, Thao Trieu, Alex Wallace
WTC ’93 – Wilford, Jacqueline & Janessa
What Happened?

– The 1993 Worl d Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two), bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people.[2][3] It failed to do so, but did kill six people and injured 1042.

– “As part of the plot to strike at the United States, these international terrorists intended to disrupt the dynamics of daily life, commerce, and finance in one of the most heavily populated cities in the United States. The suspect and his associates had hoped to kill upwards of 35,000 innocent people.” [3] “The site of the blast became one of the largest crime scenes in NYPD history.” [3]
– It was reported that “The World Trade Center bombing will be remembered as the gravest attack of international terrorism to occur directly on American soil,” [3] which was true… until 9/11.
– “700 FBI agents worldwide ultimately joining in—quickly uncovered a key bit of evidence. In the rubble investigators uncovered a vehicle identification number on a piece of wreckage that seemed suspiciously obliterated. A search of our crime records returned a match: the number belonged to a rented van reported stolen the day before the attack. An Islamic fundamentalist named Mohammad Salameh had rented

The parking garage after the bomb went off.

the vehicle, we learned, and on March 4, an FBI SWAT team arrested him as he tried in vain to get his $400 deposit back.” [1]

In Context: a couple key points
– September 16, 1920: a horse-drawn wagon exploded by the JP Morgan & Co building. More than 30 died instantly. The attackers were never caught; their motive remains unknown. Anarchy?[2]
– January 4th, 1984: The New York Port Authority realizes that the WTC is vulnerable to attack, so it creates the Terrorist Intelligence Unit within the Police Department to gather information about terrorist groups. They gather that the WTC is targeted for a terrorist attack several times during the 1980’s. The NYPA later creates the Office of Special Planning (OSP) to assess security of facilities. The OSP continues research and finds vulnerability after vulnerability. The OSP gets shut down in 1987 for unknown reasons. In 19
91, because of the Gulf War, the New York Port Authority hires private security company Burns and Roe Securacom to prepare a further risk of terrorism reports. Unlike previous investigators, Burns and Roe Securacom finds that the center’s shopping and pedestrian areas are the most likely targets. [6]
– January 17th, 1984: the four-page report “Terrorist Threat and Targeting Assessment: World Trade Center” identifies three main areas that are particularly
vulnerable to attack, including the submerged parking garage. Later reports call the WTC the “most attractive terrorist target.” [6]
– 1986: ’Blind Sheikh’ secretly met with Al Taqwa Bank Leader, Yousef Nada. Shortly after 9/11, a document called “The Project” written in 1982 will be found in Nada’s house. It outlines a secret Muslim Brotherhood plan to infiltrate and defeat Western countries. [6]

– November 5, 1990: The first Bin Laden-Related Terror Attack in US ocured. “Egyptian-American El Sayyid Nosair assassinates controversial right-wing Zio
nist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane’s organization, the Jewish Defense League, was linked to dozens of bombings and is ranked by the FBI as the most lethal domestic militant group in the US at the time.” [6]
– 1992: Al-Qaeda bomber Ramzi Yousef plans the 1993 World Trade Center bombing at an Abu Sayyaf base in the Philippines. [6]

April – June 23, 1993: “Militants plan a series of near simultaneous bombings in New York. Among the targets were prominent New York monuments: The Lincoln and Holland tunnels linking New York to New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the last to be planted with the help of diplomats fromthe Sudanese mission, the Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza, and finally, one in the Diamond District along 47th Street, populated by mostly Jewish diamond dealers. On June 23, as terrorists mix chemicals for the bombs, FBI agents raid their warehouse and arrest twelve.” [5]
– On June 24, 1994, FBI agents stormed a warehouse in Queens and caught several members of a terrorist cell in the act of assembling bombs.[1] [5]

– Ramzi Yousef.  Leader and nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
– Mohammad Salameh.  Rented Ryder truck, later arrested when trying to reclaim deposit.
– Abdul Yasin.  Managed to flee, last seen in Iraqi custody in 2002.
– Mahmoud Abouhalima.  Bought smokeless powder for detonators.
– Ahmed Ajaj.  Detained upon illegal immigration, unable to help his co-conspirators.
– Nidal Ayyad.  Bought hydrogen gas for enhancement.
– Eyad Ismoil.  Drove Ryder van with Yousef.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed–later mastermind of the failed Bojinka plot, and it’s successor, 9/11 provided funding of some 600 dollars.

According to the 9/11 Commission report, this plot was not directly connected to al-Qaeda, save through both the conspirators and al-Quaeda being in contact with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed[8].


Mohammad Salameh, Mahmoud Abouhalima, Ahmed Ajaj, and Nidal Ayyad were all arrested shortly after the bombing – part of the Ryder truck was identifiable, and when Salameh tried to reclaim security desposit (having claimed the truck as stolen), he was arrested, leading to the other arrests.

Ramzi Yousef escaped the country, and went on to participate in the failed Bojinka Plot, and was arrested in 1995 in Pakistan.
Eyad Ismoil escaped the country, but was arrested in 1995 by Jordanian authorities.

Copious amounts of evidence lead to convictions of all of the above, resulting in imprisonment.

Abdul Yasin traveled to Iraq, and was arrested by authorities there, but no extradition deal was made between Iraq and the US.  His whereabouts after the start of the 2003 Iraqi war are unknown.


According to a letter sent to the New York Times shortly after the attack, along with testimony from the conspirators, the attack was in response to US s

One of the more famous images from the WTC '93 bombing.

upport of Israel, along with other US tampering in the Middle East.

Media Coverage (timeline):

March 28, 1993 –
The New York Times receives a letter of explanation regarding the bombing of the WTC.
October 28, 1993 –
CBS News (hosted by Dan Rather) exclusively reports that there is conclusive evidence to suggest that the FBI may have previously known about the attack. The informer, Emad A. Salem, had been secretly taping agents and handed over the transcripts to law enforcement as a result. This indicated the early beginnings of conspiracy theory, which would plague both this and the September 11 attacks in its aftermath.
October 2001 – In an interview with PBS, former CIA Director James Woolsey claims Iraqi involvement in the ’93 bombing, due to Ramzi Yousef’s connections and prior history with Iraqi intelligence. Eventually, CNN terrorism analyst Peter L. Bergen reported that, “by the mid-’90s, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, the F.B.I., the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, the C.I.A., the N.S.C., and the State Department had all found no evidence implicating the Iraqi government in the first Trade Center attack.”
February 26, 2004 – In the midst of discussions for a 9/11 memorial, an interim memorial is discussed for the victims of 2/26 as well.
“Lives and innocence were lost 11 years ago today, when the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time,” the NY Times wrote. “Then the survivors lost again”
October 27, 2005 –
The Port Authority of New York is found negligent in “safeguarding the World Trade Center”
February 26, 2008 – The 15th Anniversary of the attacks. Enough time has passed so that now publications, like the New York Times, are actively discussing how the attack of 9/11 have overshadowed 2/26, and what can be done in remembrance for those victims. (The original memorial to the six who died was destroyed in 9/11.)


[6]; [Caram, 2001, pp. 4-5; New York County Supreme Court, 1/20/2004]


Mid-term Questions:
(t/f) Nobody suspected that anybody would the World Trade Center as an act of terrorism before the attack.
2) (t/f) All the main conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were arrested by 2001.
3) (t/f) The conspirators’ main reason for attacking the US was the US’s support of Israel.

4) Which publication received the letter of explanation?
a. The Wall Street Journal
b. The New York Post
c. The New York Times
d. The Arizona Republic

5) Who was the informant who tried to alert the FBI to the attack?
a. Mohammad Salameh
b. Dan Rather
c. Emad A. Salem
d. Khalid Sheik Mohammed

Oklahoma City Bombing

Team 3: Wilford Eiteman-Pang, Jacqueline Ekama, Janessa Hilliard, Thao Trieu, Alex Wallace
Oklahoma City Bombing – Thao, Alex & Janessa

Introduction Questions:

  • Who: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols
  • What: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed through bombing
  • Where: Oklahoma
  • When: April 17, 1995
  • Why: To inspire a revolt a against a tyrannical federal government (raising taxes, incompetent leadership, restrictive gun control) and to avenge those killed in the Waco Siege and the Ruby Ridge incident.

Historical Background

What happened?
At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995,  the truck exploded in the street in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. About 90 minutes later, McVeigh was stopped by an Oklahoma state trooper for driving a vehicle without a license plate, who then arrested him on a firearms charge. Two days later he was charged in the bombing. His friend Terry Nichols was arrested in Kansas, and formally charged with the bombing on May 10.

Oklahoma City Bombing.

The blast killed 168 people – 19 of them were children – and injured hundreds. The blast also damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen–block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings. The bomb was estimated to have caused at least $652 million worth of damage.

By the end of 1998, the federal government had spent $82.5 million investigating and prosecuting the case.

Detailed timeline of the Oklahoma City bombing:

SEPT. 13: Timothy McVeigh begins his plot to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.

SEPT. 30: The first ton of ammonium nitrate is bought for the bomb from a farm co-op in McPherson, Kan.

OCT. 18: The second ton of fertilizer is purchased.

OCT. 21: McVeigh, disguised as a biker, buys $2,775 worth of nitromethane racing fuel for the bomb at a Texas track.

DEC. 16: McVeigh drives by the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and points it out as his target to his friend, Michael Fortier.
1995APRIL 14: McVeigh buys his getaway car, a 1977 Mercury Marquis, at a Firestone store in Junction City, Kan. He checks into the Dreamland Motel.

APRIL 16: McVeigh leaves the car in Oklahoma City. His friend, Terry Nichols, drives him back to Kansas.

APRIL 17: McVeigh shows up at Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City to pick up the 20-foot Ryder truck that will hold the bomb. He uses the name Robert D. Kling and claims his destination is Omaha, Neb.

APRIL 19: A bomb rips through Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 a.m., killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring hundreds of others. McVeigh is arrested 90 minutes later on firearms charge after a traffic stop near Billings, Okla.

APRIL 20: Authorities release sketches of suspects John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.

APRIL 21: Shortly before he was to be released, McVeigh is recognized as a bombing suspect and charged in the bombing; after an initial court appearance, McVeigh is taken to federal prison in El Reno, Okla.; Terry Nichols surrenders in Herington, Kan., and he and his brother, James, are held as material witnesses; FBI agents conduct searches in Kingman, Ariz.; President Clinton declares a national day of mourning for April 23.

Key Players Then

  • Timorthy McVeigh
    • Divorced family, rather quiet and drawn in after childhood
    • Small government believer. Intense supporter of gun rights.
    • Ex-military after not being accepted into Special Forces for not reaching physical requirements.  Served in Gulf War and was awarded a Bronze Medal.
    • Worked as a security guard but left to meet up with his ex-Army friends.
    • Visited the Waco Siege during and after the siege.
    • Wrote many heated letters to newspapers and government officials about the tyrannical acts of the government, restrictions on gun rights and stealing civil liberties.
    • Met up with Terry Nichols, who McVeigh served with, and stayed there for a couple months before the attack.
    • Practiced making the bombs from the materials and detonation in the desert.
    • Set and detonated the explosives
    • Arrested for carrying a concealed weapon after driving without a license plate in his getaway vehicle
    • letter to the Buffalo News daily in New York state – “For those diehard conspiracy theorists who will refuse to believe this, I turn the tables and say: show me where I needed anyone else,” McVeigh wrote. “Financing? Logistics? Specialised tech skills? Brainpower? Strategy? _ Show me where I needed a dark, mysterious ‘Mr X’!”
    • letter to the Buffalo News daily in New York state – “I am sorry these people had to lose their lives,” he wrote. “But that’s the nature of the beast. It’s understood going in what the human toll will be.”
    • Executed by lethal injection June 11, 2001
  • Terry Nichols
    • Co-conspirator of McVeigh
    • Assisted McVeigh in designing and building the bomb
    • Served with McVeigh in the military
    • Turned himself in after McVeigh was arrested
    • Sentenced to life in prison by a federal jury in Colorado for consipracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and 8 counts of involuntary manslaughter
    • Returned to Oklahoma to face state charges of 161 counts of first-degree murder
    • Jury was deadlocked on the death penalty but settled for 161 consecutive life terms in jail without possibility of parole
  • Michael and Lori Fortier
    • Both played a minor role in the bombing
    • Michael helped McVeigh survey the area before the attack
    • Both testified against McVeigh
      • Michael made a bargain to 10 years in prison and his wife, Lori, to have no jail time.
  • John Doe No. 2?
    • Nichols claims there were other accomplices but McVeigh adamantly denied it.  Nichols states that a high-ranking FBI director, Larry Potts, directed McVeigh in the plot and might have changed the original target.

Key Players Now

  • Terry Nichols
    • Hunger strike in prison to get access to better food for religious and health reasons (Feb 2010)
  • John Doe No. 2?  McVeigh denied this other but Nichols says that he was recruited for undercover missions in the military and served with McVeigh (potentially Jose padilla according to consiparacy theorists because of a resemblance to a police sketch of a OK City bombing suspect and resemblance to the name Lana Padilla, former wife of Terry Nichols).  Nichols sticks to his story that there were other accomplices.

Key Events

  • Waco Siege
    • 51 day siege on a cult leader David Koresh that was abusing children and women and amassing illegal weapons
    • Bureau of alchohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) raided the compound with a warrant but a firefight ensued
    • Gas was used but the compound caught fire and killed 75 of the 84 people in the buildings.
  • Ruby Ridge
    • Confrontation between Randy Weaver, his family, Kevin Harris and agents of the FBI and US Marshals
    • In the end, a US Marshall, a young boy and a woman were killed along with the family dog in a convoluted series of events
  • McVeigh Execution – June 11, 2001, signed off by President Bush as McVeigh was a federal prisoner.

    Charles Porter's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph.

Media Coverage (timeline)

Because the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was still fresh in the mind of many Americans, American media outlets initially attributed the attack to Islamic terrorists. Once blame quickly turned to McVeigh and Nichols, the media focused extensively on the trial and subsequent execution of McVeigh. The bombing also gave way to many acts of legislation, including the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Victim Allocution Clarification Act of 1997.

  • 1996 – Utility company employee Charles Porter wins the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for his photograph of firefighter Chris Fields holding dying infant Baylee Almon.
  • April 26, 2001 – McVeigh writes letter to FOX News (by way of correspondent Rita Cosby) “Why I Bombed the Murrah building.”
  • May 11, 2001 – One month prior to his execution, McVeigh grants CBS’ “60 Minutes” a rare televised interview. In the interview, McVeigh expresses his frustration and anger after the Gulf War – something that he appears to try to attribute as one of the reasons for the Oklahoma City Bombing.
  • June 11, 2001 – McVeigh is executed by lethal injection in front of members of the victims families. His request for a nationally televised execution was denied.
  • April 19, 2005 – Former President Bill Clinton, Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating attend a memorial in honor of the 10 year anniversary of the bombing. The media pays special attention as then-President George W. Bush is noticeably absent, asking Cheney to attend in his stead. President Bush was in Springfield, Illinois to dedicate the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
  • September 27 & 28, 2009 – A Utah attorney who’s brother (Kenneth Michael Trentadue) died while being questioned in connection with the bombing, claims the FBI edited tapes of security footage from the day of the bombing.
  • February 19, 2010 – Nichols declares a fast in opposition to prison food, which he says is “against his religion” and defiles his body.

Latest Developments

  • Due to the attack, legislation was passed to improve the defense of federal buildings via a ranking system (security levels) and improvements to building construction (glass glazing to reduce shattering, prevention of progressive collapse) as well as building location (increasing standoff distances where unscreened traffic is kept at a farther distance)
  • Nichols’ hunger strike (Feb 2010)

Possible Mid-Term Questions
1. Who was charged in the OK bombing in 1995?

a. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (Correct Answer)
b. The same group that bombed the Twin Towels in 1993
c. Al-Qaeda group
d. British terrorists

2. Which of the following was not used as the explosive materials in the OK attack in 1995?
a. Hydrazine rocket fuel (Correct Answer)
b. Ammonium nitrate
c. Nitromethane
d. Tovex

3. Which event(s) helped to drive McVeigh to the bombing?
a. Ruby Ridge and the Waco Siege (Correct Answer)
b. Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing
c. ’93 World Trade Center bombing
d. The Gulf War and his dishonorable discharge from service

4. Why did McVeigh choose to bomb the federal building?
a. There were many non-government targets surrounding the building
b. It would target mostly government employees and span several departments (Correct Answer)
c. Many children would be killed because it contained a day-care center
d. It would be an easier target than a populated mall

5. What is the name of the major newspaper in Oklahoma City that covered the story on the largest scale?
a. Oklahoma Gazette
b. The News Press
c. The Oklahoman
d. News Capital & Democrat

Sources: imgurl=,2933,26810,00.html

9/11 Reflection: BBC News – “America’s Day of Terror”

It’s a scared, scared world. Post 9/11-society has brought with it an amazing abundance of changes. From the way news outlets around the world cover terrorist attacks – or perceived terrorist attacks – to the cautionary reactions of international governments one thing it clear: the world has moved toward a direction we never perceived possible on that clear September day. To Americans, it was the day that everything changed, that seemed impossible. To the world, it was a day that rocked a stable nation to its core, and shocked countries big and small. On a global scale the terrorist attacks of September 11 were met with equal bewilderment as a nation panicked, and the world watched.

One way to truly comprehend the world’s reaction is to look at one of the largest international platforms for news. The British Broadcasting Corporation, henceforth known under its familiar title “BBC”, not only has a monopoly in Britain, but is responsible for providing the world with its news as well. Today millions globally turn to the BBC for its breaking news and reporting, including countries where international coverage is considered a luxury. Though the BBC operates primarily via television and radio, the following examination focuses on the presentation of 9/11 from an online media perspective. Read more

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.