On February 26, 1993, a bomb exploded in a parking garage of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. This event was the first indication for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) that terrorism was evolving from a regional phenomenon outside of the United States to a transnational phenomenon.

Damage created by the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. DSS was called to assist the New York Police Department and the FBI in the investigation, and helped to identify the Middle Eastern radical responsible for the attack. Although Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had ties to the bombing, the connections would not become clear until 1996. Source: © Associated Press / Richard Drew.

The New York City (NYC) Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force immediately called upon DSS for support during the investigation. Working with NYC Police, the FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), DSS helped to quickly identify a group of Middle Eastern radicals as those responsible for the attack. FBI and NYC police arrested most of the terrorists before they could leave the United States; however, Ramzi Yousef, the driver of the van containing the explosives, escaped.

A DSS Agent operates an explosives detector inside a crater left by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Source: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

In July 1993, the Department of State offered a $2 million reward through the Rewards for Justice program for information leading to the arrest of Yousef.

By this time, Yousef had disappeared underground; U.S. law enforcement officials believed that Yousef had escaped to Pakistan, but they had little reliable information about his location. However, DSS Special Agents did much of the work that led to his capture in Pakistan.

In February 1995, nearly two years after the WTC attack, a man presented himself at the residence of a U.S. diplomat in Karachi, and claimed to have information about Yousef’s location. DSS agents in Pakistan confirmed that the man was a legitimate source: he was a former contact for Yousef. Based on his information, DSS agents Bill Miller and Jeff Riner alerted Pakistani officials and prepared to raid Yousef ’s hotel room.

On February 7, 1995, a team of Pakistani law enforcement officers and DSS agents, including Miller, stormed into Yousef ’s room, waking him from a nap, and arrested him. The next day, Pakistani officials turned Yousef over to FBI agents, who flew him to New York City for arraignment. The informant received a $2 million reward, and on March 11, Yousef was indicted for the 1993 WTC bombing.

Ramzi Yousef, the driver of the explosives-laden truck in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. DSS agents, through a Pakistani source, located Yousef; DS Agents Bill Miller and Jeff Riner worked with Pakistani law enforcement to apprehend Yousef. Yousef was turned over to the FBI, and brought to the United States for trial. Source: © Associated Press.

U.S. Department of State

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