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Our long war with jihadist terrorism started this way, exactly 25 years ago

Eight years before the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, America witnessed an ambitious terror plot that als...

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 11:27 AM
Updated: Feb 26, 2018 11:27 AM

Eight years before the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, America witnessed an ambitious terror plot that also targeted the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

It was a quarter of a century ago this week, on February 26, 1993, when a group of jihadist terrorists, some of whom had trained in Afghanistan, tried to bring down the towers and to kill the many thousands of Americans working there.

The terrorists drove a van packed with explosives into a basement parking garage at the Trade Center and detonated a bomb. The bomb didn't succeed in bringing down the Twin Towers, but it killed six people, injured many others and alerted Americans to a new kind of terrorism threat.

The FBI moved quickly to arrest many of the Trade Center plotters and they were tried and convicted in federal court and given lengthy sentences.

The Bureau also put an informant inside a second group of jihadist terrorists who were planning additional attacks against Manhattan landmarks, including the United Nations and the Holland and the Lincoln tunnels. They were arrested and also convicted.

The spiritual leader of the terrorists targeting Manhattan, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, aka "the Blind Sheik," was also arrested. He died in an American prison last year.

The campaign of terrorism directed against targets in New York City in the early 1990s provided the impetus for a relatively small group of counterterrorism specialists at the FBI and CIA to start focusing on a shadowy network of jihadists who were part of an organization called al-Qaeda and its leader, a wealthy Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

Yet America was still vulnerable to the nightmare of 9/11, no doubt because the tactic of turning passenger planes into weapons was anticipated by few.

Hints of what was to come

The group of jihadist terrorists who carried out the 1993 Trade Center attack prefigured much of what would come later. The leader of the 1993 operation was Ramzi Yousef, whose uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was the operational commander of the 9/11 attacks.

A number of the 1993 terrorists had fought in the wars in Afghanistan that began in the 1980s, out of which was forged al-Qaeda.

And one of the 1993 conspirators was a US citizen, which prefigured the continuing threat we face today from "homegrown" America terrorists inspired by ISIS, a group that is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Trade Center bombing it's worth considering where we are in the long war that began that day.

Four waves of terrorism

The American political scientist David Rappaport pointed out shortly after the 9/11 attacks that there have been four "waves" of revolutionary terrorism in the past century or so, each one of which has burned itself out after several decades.

First, was the anarchist wave. In 1920, not far from the eventual location of the Trade Center, outside the J.P. Morgan bank at 23 Wall Street, anarchists blew up a wagon loaded with explosives, killing 38 people. You can still see the gouges in the limestone facade of the building, caused by the bombing almost a century ago.

The next wave of terrorism was the anti-colonial wave typified by the Jewish militant groups that forced the British out of Palestine shortly after World War II and the militants who forced the French out of Algeria in the early 1960s.

Then came the leftist wave that began in the 1960s that included terrorist groups such as the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany and the Weather Underground in the United States.

Finally, came the religious wave that began in 1979 with the overthrow of the Shah of Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers. This revolution made a great impression on Osama bin Laden as it demonstrated that religious militants could overthrow Western-backed autocrats.

This wave of Islamist religious revolutionary violence continues to this day. Its latest iteration is ISIS, and while the terrorist army has been largely defeated in Iraq and Syria, the political conditions that produced ISIS largely remain in place. They include the sectarian civil war that is roiling the Middle East from Yemen to Syria to Iraq and that pits Shia militias backed by Iran against Sunni groups such as al-Qaeda.

And they also include the collapse of governance in large chunks of the Middle East following the Arab Spring that has engendered failed states from Libya to Yemen. Those states are the weak hosts in which parasitical terrorist groups such as ISIS thrive.

It is from this toxic mix that we are likely to see the son of ISIS emerge. The long war that began with the first Trade Center attack 25 years ago continues with no end in sight.

Like other waves of terrorism, the religious wave will burn itself out at some point. But that could take decades, because the religious terrorists truly believe that God is on their side -- and that is a very powerful form of belief.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 918230

Reported Deaths: 15011
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1252491952
Lake623371084
Allen52301746
Hamilton43009443
St. Joseph41155584
Elkhart32831485
Vanderburgh29698436
Tippecanoe26442247
Johnson23106414
Hendricks21708338
Porter21255340
Clark16988222
Madison16899378
Vigo15562272
Monroe14186190
LaPorte13961235
Delaware13613215
Howard13531258
Kosciusko11150134
Hancock10534159
Warrick10431174
Bartholomew10233166
Floyd10099202
Wayne9557216
Grant8858194
Morgan8654158
Boone8231109
Dubois7521123
Henry7391126
Dearborn734186
Noble7208100
Marshall7168127
Cass7060117
Lawrence6803150
Jackson638980
Shelby6386106
Gibson5999105
Harrison587984
Huntington586490
Montgomery5663101
DeKalb555691
Knox532999
Miami523183
Clinton522464
Putnam519067
Whitley509851
Steuben480267
Wabash470192
Jasper465760
Jefferson456091
Ripley439074
Adams435565
Daviess4008106
Scott389563
White383457
Decatur376895
Clay376455
Greene375589
Wells375183
Fayette363074
Posey351841
Jennings341756
Washington324046
LaGrange312074
Spencer310734
Fountain306553
Randolph302087
Sullivan294947
Owen275961
Orange269659
Starke268961
Fulton264451
Jay248134
Perry244950
Carroll239926
Franklin229337
Vermillion225850
Rush225530
Parke212020
Tipton205354
Pike200938
Blackford163834
Pulaski155250
Crawford140818
Benton138316
Newton138141
Brown130646
Martin124416
Switzerland122310
Warren112616
Union92211
Ohio75811
Unassigned0461

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1319265

Reported Deaths: 21265
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1480641537
Cuyahoga1311202313
Hamilton948871307
Montgomery647451122
Summit548531041
Lucas49502853
Butler45993649
Stark39954963
Lorain30438525
Warren29170326
Mahoning25988629
Clermont24726278
Lake24088411
Delaware21722140
Licking19822239
Fairfield19780218
Greene19671266
Medina19208285
Trumbull19195506
Clark17188321
Portage15585224
Richland15540228
Wood15187208
Allen13654254
Miami13283244
Muskingum11821148
Wayne11448234
Columbiana11100239
Tuscarawas10388264
Marion10273144
Pickaway10162128
Scioto9766124
Erie9479170
Ross8979172
Lawrence8225116
Hancock8105140
Ashtabula8083184
Geauga7976155
Belmont7791183
Jefferson7093168
Huron7087125
Union703549
Washington6823116
Athens666163
Sandusky6608132
Darke6394135
Knox6308120
Seneca6113135
Auglaize569888
Ashland5631110
Shelby555799
Mercer545188
Brown533067
Defiance5278100
Madison527368
Crawford5148113
Highland514876
Fulton508781
Clinton505379
Logan494582
Preble4788110
Putnam4733106
Guernsey439057
Williams437281
Champaign426463
Ottawa425783
Perry414051
Jackson402259
Pike367140
Morrow359149
Fayette353951
Coshocton345064
Hardin341868
Adams338864
Gallia329254
Holmes3148107
Henry312668
Van Wert299269
Hocking280467
Wyandot271858
Carroll250451
Paulding231742
Meigs197842
Monroe178649
Noble160340
Morgan153528
Harrison145740
Vinton130217
Unassigned05
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An area of high pressure will pave the way to plenty of sunshine as we round out the work week.
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