Abdul Basit Karim
Who is Ramzi Yousef?
Ramzi Yousef is the convicted mastermind of the
1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also plotted
to bomb U.S. airliners in January 1995.
In 1993, before the bombing, Yousef lived in
Jersey City, New Jersey, with fellow bomber Mohamed
Salameh, one of the first four men convicted in
the WTC attack and sentenced to life in prison.
to the presiding judge in his 1998 trial, the
bombing of New York's World Trade Center on February
26, 1993 was meant to topple the city's tallest
tower onto its twin, amid a cloud of cyanide gas.
Had the attack gone as planned, tens of thousands
of Americans would have died. Instead, as we know,
one tower did not fall on the other, and, rather
than vaporizing, the cyanide gas burnt up in the
heat of the explosion. "Only" six people
In January 1995, Yousef and his associates plotted
to blow up eleven U.S. commercial aircraft in
one spectacular day of terrorist rage. The bombs
were to be made of a liquid explosive designed
to pass through airport metal detectors. But while
mixing his chemical brew in a Manila
apartment, Yousef started a fire. He was forced
to flee, leaving behind a computer that contained
the information that led to his arrest a month
later in Pakistan. Among the items found in his
possession was a letter threatening Filipino interests
if a comrade held in custody were not released.
It claimed the "ability to make and use chemicals
and poisonous gas... for use against vital institutions
and residential populations and the sources of
Yousef lived for a time in a Pakistani boarding
house run by Saudi exile Osama
Although in an interview in 1997 bin Laden
said he did not know Yousef personally.
Yousef fled the country the night of the attack
and made it onto the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
list, with a $2 million reward for information
leading to his arrest. Law enforcement authorities
apprehended him after receiving a tip from an
Ramzi Yousef's plots were the most ambitious
terrorist conspiracies ever attempted against
the United States.
Arrest and conviction
Pakistani police arrested Yousef a month later,
on February 7, 1995, in an Islamabad hotel room.
Authorities also arrested Shah in Malaysia, based
on his photo agents found scanned into Yousef's
laptop. He later admitted providing money and
fake passports to Yousef and Murad but denied
knowing about bomb plots.
Yousef and Murad were high school friends who
grew up in a village in Kuwait, and later lived
together in Pakistan and the Philippines.
Prosecutors depicted Yousef as the leader of
the cell that carried out the February 26, 1993,
World Trade Center truck bombing that killed six
people and injured more than 1,000 -- at the time,
the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Yousef's
fingerprints turned up on bomb-making manuals
and storage lockers used by the trade center bombers.
He was believed to have bought the chemicals used
to construct the 1,500-pound bomb placed inside
a rented Ryder truck and detonated after the vehicle
was driven into one tower's parking garage.
U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Duffy sentenced
Yousef to life in prison on January 8, 1998, for
the trade center bombings; Murad was sentenced
to life on May 16, 1998.
Yousef is incarcerated at the federal "supermax"
prison in Florence, Colorado, where Yousef has
been cooperating with the government and has yet
to be sentenced. He recently was housed close
to prosecutors at a facility in lower Manhattan,