Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I searched for an event during the Clinton Administration that would be significant for a history lesson this week and had to settle for terrorist attacks. In researching for this post, I discovered that the first terrorist attack took place in 1920. On September 16 of that year, a TNT bomb was planted in an unattended horse-drawn wagon in New York City. It exploded on Wall Street opposite the House of Morgan; it killed 35 people and injured hundreds of other people. The crime was never solved, but Bolshevist or anarchist terrorists were believed to be responsible. The next terrorist attack apparently took place in 1975 when a bomb was set off on January 24 in Fraunces Tavern in New York City. This bomb killed 4 people and injured more than 50 other people. A Puerto Rican nationalist group (FALN) claimed to be responsible. Police tied 13 other bombings to the group. In the thirty year period from 1979 when Iranian radical students seized the U.S. Embassy on November 4,took 66 hostages and kept 52 of them prisoners for 444 days until the Christmas Day bomber in 2009, there have been more than 40 separate terrorist attacks or attempted attacks within the United States or against Americans abroad. Most of them were credited to people from the Middle East. I'll elaborate on only those that took place while Bill Clinton was in the White House. On February 26, 1993, a bomb exploded in the basement garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. It killed 6 people and injured at least 1,040 other people. Militant Islamist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 9 other people were convicted on conspiracy charges in 1995. In 1998, the suspected mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, was convicted of the bombing. Al-Qaeda involvement is suspected. On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City, a car bomb exploded outside the federal office building. Walls and floors collapsed, killing 168 people - including 19 children and 1 person who died in the rescue attempt. More than 220 other buildings received some damage from the bomb. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were later convicted in the anti-government plot to avenge the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, exactly 2 years earlier. On November 13, 1995, a car bomb exploded at U.S. military headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and killed 5 United States military servicemen. On June 25, 1996, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, a truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex. It killed 19 American servicemen and injured hundreds of others. In June 2001, 13 Saudis and a Lebanese, all alleged to be members of Islamic militant group Hezbollah, were indicted on charges relating to the attack. On August 7, 1998, in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, truck bombs exploded almost at the same time near 2 United States embassies. These attacks killed 224 people (213 in Kenya and 11 in Tanzania) and injured 4,500. In May 2001, 4 men connected with Al-Qaeda - 2 of them were trained at Al-Qaeda camps inside Afghanistan - were convicted of the killings and later sentenced to life in prison. Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, who remained at large, was one of 22 men indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the attacks. On October 12, 2000, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was docked and refueling in the Port of Aden in Yemen when a small boat carrying two men approached the ship. Explosives packed into the small boat were detonated alongside the U.S.S. Cole. The resulting explosion killed 17 sailors on board the destroyer and injured 39 others. It also tore a hole 40 feet high and 40 feet wide in the side of the 505-foot-long vessel. Some international analysts suspected that the bombers were connected to Arabs who were sympathetic to the Palestinian uprising while other analysts thought that the blame for the bombing lay with Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire who was believed by the United States of funding terrorist attacks such as the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden was responsible for a pledge to drive the United States military forces out of the Middle East, and his main supporters were Islamist militants from various Arab countries who were referred to as "Arab Afghans." Several Arab Afghans were detained by Yemeni authorities for questioning in the bombing. Investigators for the Yemeni government concluded that the two bombers who were killed in the attack on the U.S.S. Cole had been Arab Afghans from Saudi Arabia. Three to six Yemenis were suspected as being accomplices in the incident. It seemed at the time that President Clinton was not all that interested in pursuing Bin Laden. Maybe the destruction of 9/11 could have been avoided or lessened by concentrating on stopping Bin Laden during the Clinton Administration instead of the investigation about oral sex in the Oval Office.