'Precursor to 9/11': Trade center bomb echoes after 25 years - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Precursor to 9/11': Trade center bomb echoes after 25 years

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK, NY -

In a room in the 9/11 museum, there are a police captain’s poignant notes and a flashlight that illuminated the way to safety. Nearby, a letter from a trapped man tells his family, “I love you very much.... Do wonderful things in your life.”

The artifacts aren’t from Sept 11, 2001. They are reminders of a terror attack that foreshadowed it: the deadly World Trade Center bombing, 25 years ago Monday.

That shadow fell personally on Lolita Jackson. As a young finance worker, she picked her way down 72 flights of blacked-out stairs on Feb. 26, 1993, and fled the trade center’s south tower again in 2001.

The bombing “tends to be forgotten because 9/11 was such a cataclysmic event,” she says, but the blast has its own place in the lives and memories of an estimated 50,000 people who were in the twin towers that snowy afternoon.

The explosion killed six people, injured over 1,000, manifested the growing terror threat from Islamic extremism and led to safety improvements credited with helping some people survive Sept. 11.

It “was, in many respects, a precursor to 9/11,” says museum President Alice Greenwald.

A bomb exploded in a rented van in a basement parking garage shortly after noon, causing a crater several stories deep and a boom felt many floors above.

The blast killed visitor John DiGiovanni and five people who worked at the trade center — Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado and Monica Rodriguez Smith. Smith was pregnant.

Power was knocked out and pipes were severed, flooding backup generators. Elevators got stuck. A group of kindergartners was stranded for hours on an observation deck. Other people were trapped in the debris-filled garage. Police helicopters plucked nearly two dozen people, some disabled, from rooftops.

Some office workers broke out windows to try to clear smoke while awaiting help. Others made their way down, emerging coated in soot.

Jackson didn’t feel fearful at first. What was terrifying was the 2 1/2-hour trek down the pitch-dark, crowded, smoky stairs, wondering what she would see at the bottom.

“You didn’t know what was going to happen,” recalls Jackson, who now works in city government.

Alone in a stalled elevator with smoke wafting in and no idea why, trade center worker Carl Selinger began to think he might not get out alive. So Selinger wrote a letter to his wife and children and waited. He was rescued after 5 ½ hours.

“I dealt with what I had to deal with,” Selinger said at a recent discussion at the Sept. 11 museum.

Within days, a fragment of the rented van began leading investigators to Muslim extremists who sought to punish the United States for its Middle East policies, especially its aid to Israel, according to prosecutors.

As they pursued that case and learned about another plot to bomb New York City landmarks, then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White “saw red lights blinking everywhere about how serious I thought this threat was from international terrorists,” she told an audience Thursday at the museum.

Indeed, a letter found on an accused bombing conspirator’s laptop made it chillingly clear the threat wasn’t over.

“Unfortunately, our calculations were not very accurate this time. However, we promise you that next time it will be very precise and the World Trade Center will continue to be one of our targets,” it said.

Six bombing suspects were convicted and sentenced, including accused mastermind Ramzi Yousef — a nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who would later become the self-professed architect of 9/11. A seventh bombing suspect, Abdul Rahman Yasin, remains at large and is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

After the bombing, the government-run trade center banned underground parking, installed battery-operated lights in stairwells and added security cameras, among other safety upgrades.

A memorial fountain was destroyed on Sept. 11. But bombing victims’ names are now inscribed on one of the waterfall pools that bear the names of the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11. A room in the Sept. 11 museum is devoted to the bombing, and a special temporary installation marks the 25th anniversary.

After poring through the installation one day recently, 15-year-old Raven Rucinski, of Michigan, was surprised she’d never heard much about the bombing. Catlin Roberts, 39, from Swansea, Wales, reflected on the legacy of an event she had only dimly recalled.

“I don’t think, when this happened, people understood what the people who did it represented,” she said.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Florida mom blames teen's death on confusing packaging for peanut cookies

    Florida mom blames teen's death on confusing packaging for peanut cookies

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 1:05 PM EDT2018-07-17 17:05:08 GMT

    A Florida mother blames the death of her 15-year-old daughter on what she calls confusing packaging for Reese's Chips Ahoy cookies.    Kelli Travers-Stafford says her daughter Alexi mistakenly ate one of the cookies at a friend's house despite her peanut allergy, because the top of the familiar red packaging was peeled back, hiding the Reese's label.  

    >>

    A Florida mother blames the death of her 15-year-old daughter on what she calls confusing packaging for Reese's Chips Ahoy cookies.    Kelli Travers-Stafford says her daughter Alexi mistakenly ate one of the cookies at a friend's house despite her peanut allergy, because the top of the familiar red packaging was peeled back, hiding the Reese's label.  

    >>
  • Spokane Valley massage parlor under investigation for sex trafficking

    Spokane Valley massage parlor under investigation for sex trafficking

    Monday, July 16 2018 9:43 PM EDT2018-07-17 01:43:51 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - The Washington State Patrol is investigating a Spokane Valley massage parlor for sex trafficking and prostitution. According to court documents, several men contacted authorities about the parlor, Space Oil Massage, and told them that the women who worked there asked them in private to call 911 because they were being forced to perform sex acts against their will.

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - The Washington State Patrol is investigating a Spokane Valley massage parlor for sex trafficking and prostitution. According to court documents, several men contacted authorities about the parlor, Space Oil Massage, and told them that the women who worked there asked them in private to call 911 because they were being forced to perform sex acts against their will.

    >>
  • Man who was hitting woman dies after witnesses intervene

    Man who was hitting woman dies after witnesses intervene

    Monday, July 16 2018 6:58 PM EDT2018-07-16 22:58:35 GMT

    YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Police say a man who was assaulting a woman in Yakima is dead after he was struck with a baton or baseball bat as witnesses intervened.    Authorities say the fight happened late Sunday night outside the Connections Transitional Apartments. Officers arrived to find a 57-year-old man who lived at the complex sitting outside with a head injury. He died at a hospital.

    >>

    YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Police say a man who was assaulting a woman in Yakima is dead after he was struck with a baton or baseball bat as witnesses intervened.    Authorities say the fight happened late Sunday night outside the Connections Transitional Apartments. Officers arrived to find a 57-year-old man who lived at the complex sitting outside with a head injury. He died at a hospital.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Denver widow penalized for late husband's legal marijuana use

    Denver widow penalized for late husband's legal marijuana use

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 5:17 PM EDT2018-07-17 21:17:50 GMT

    The state of Colorado is denying half the workers' compensation death benefits to a woman whose husband died while working on a ski lift because he had marijuana in his system.    KMGH-TV reports Erika Lee's husband, Adam Lee, was crushed to death in December underneath a ski escalator in Loveland.    

    >>

    The state of Colorado is denying half the workers' compensation death benefits to a woman whose husband died while working on a ski lift because he had marijuana in his system.    KMGH-TV reports Erika Lee's husband, Adam Lee, was crushed to death in December underneath a ski escalator in Loveland.    

    >>
  • Victim in Stevens County plane crash identified

    Victim in Stevens County plane crash identified

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 4:13 PM EDT2018-07-17 20:13:47 GMT
    From Left to Right: Andrew Trouten, JC Austen Lee,  and Diego SennFrom Left to Right: Andrew Trouten, JC Austen Lee, and Diego Senn

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - The Stevens County Coroner has officially identified one of the three people who died in a Stevens County plane crash last week as 37-year-old Andrew Trouten. Though not officially identified, friends and family have identified the other two victims as JC Austen Lee and Diego Senn. The plane went down about 7 miles west of the Deer Park airport last Friday.

    >>

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - The Stevens County Coroner has officially identified one of the three people who died in a Stevens County plane crash last week as 37-year-old Andrew Trouten. Though not officially identified, friends and family have identified the other two victims as JC Austen Lee and Diego Senn. The plane went down about 7 miles west of the Deer Park airport last Friday.

    >>
  • Jaguar escapes New Orleans zoo enclosure, believed to have bitten through steel cable

    Jaguar escapes New Orleans zoo enclosure, believed to have bitten through steel cable

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 3:59 PM EDT2018-07-17 19:59:21 GMT

    A zoo official in New Orleans says a jaguar that killed nine other animals during a weekend escape is believed to have bitten through a steel-cable barrier that forms the roof of its habitat.    Kyle Burks of the Audubon Zoo told reporters Tuesday that the jaguar apparently slipped through the resulting small gap in the barrier.    No people were hurt. 

    >>

    A zoo official in New Orleans says a jaguar that killed nine other animals during a weekend escape is believed to have bitten through a steel-cable barrier that forms the roof of its habitat.    Kyle Burks of the Audubon Zoo told reporters Tuesday that the jaguar apparently slipped through the resulting small gap in the barrier.    No people were hurt. 

    >>