An act of domestic terrorism Essay

            The World Trade Center (WTC) bombing was an act of terrorism that occurred on the United States’ soil in the city of New York on 26th February, 1993. The explosion took place outside the World Trade Center buildings in its parking garage. This explosion caused a lot of damage of properties worth more than half billion dollars not mentioning the number of people who died and those that were injured, in fact six people died while a score of others were severely injured. This incidence instilled fear and shook the confidence people had as far as their security was concerned. The objective of the terrorists was to kill as many people as possible by bringing this building down but the plan somehow flopped. There were many changes and improvements that were made in the emergency response units to deal with similar future occurrences. It is these effects that this incidence had on the US emergency response that this research paper will specifically focus on.

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            This research paper starts with a brief account of what happened during that time and tries to give a rough estimate of the loss that occurred. From thereon, the paper proceeds to look and discuss in-depth in how this bombing changed or impacted on the US emergency response. The paper concludes with a recap of the key points that have been discussed and in the very last page is a list of all the references that have been cited properly formatted in accordance with APA formatting style.

            Soon after the 1993 bombing of the WTC, investigations were launched and a number of suspects were arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force JTTF in conjunction with the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI). A month later four of the suspects were arrested and trials started on September 13th 1993 and lasted for the next six months. On the fourth of March 1994, a jury found all of them guilty of all the 38 counts that had been leveled against them. On 25th of May, 1994, each of the convicted terrorists was sentenced to serve a jail term of 240 years accompanied by a fine of $250,000 fine. A year later on 7th February the prime suspect linked with the bombing was arrested in Pakistan and handled over to the United States authorities to be investigated. The suspect was convicted guilty of having masterminded the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and January 8th, 1998 he was sentenced for two hundred and forty years in jail. (Simon R.1999)

            This quick response by the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) served to allay the fears that had deeply affected the citizens and somehow a state of normalcy returned in the New York City. Much of the emergency response that resulted in respect to this incidence was impromptu as these units were caught unaware as such an event was not a usual occurrence. It became a major concern of the government of United States on how vulnerable the skyscrapers were to the acts of terrorism. As a result of this bombing, the government of the United States spent sixty million dollars in capital funds to strengthen the complex’s stability. Before this incidence took place, the World Trade Center was open to the public where they would enter and leave at their own will. The parking garage was also free to all but after this incidence the World Trade Center complex was restricted to the officials only and the public would no longer be allowed to access it. (Parachini, 2001)

            Again after the bombing, very strong steel reinforced planters were erected to surround the World Trade Center complex and a movable and custom made gate that would allow free access of the emergency vehicles to the plaza was installed.

After the explosion there were a number of people that were trapped in those buildings and volunteers jumped to their rescue before the New York fire fighters and police could respond. Soon they arrived and joined hands to rescue the thousands who were trapped and in this confusion it was not easy to establish and arrest the suspect who might have arranged this and that was why the security departments ensured that everybody accessing this complex thereafter was closely monitored. (Juergensmeyer, 2003)

            All people accessing the World Trade Center thereafter were to register at the visitor’s desk or pass through an official turnstile and were suppose to carry their proximity card with an ID photograph. Every visitor had to be photographed and given a card that would be used for sometime. Again there was made photo proximity cards that would be given different color coding to differentiate between long term visitors, tenants and contractors. Long term visitors were given red, contractors yellow and the tenant were given green. (Craighead, 33)

        From 1993 WTC bombing: parking along or close to some buildings was prohibited in order to ensure that these buildings were save from acts of terrorism, Some no stopping zones and driveways for motorist that were near to these buildings were marked so as not to give terrorist a chance to organize their activities. These areas are clearly marked by a perimeter stand off zone using steel and concrete barriers (Craighead, 36)

            The incident being not a normal occurrence was a challenge to the fire departments that had come to extinguish it. At first they thought it was an explosion due to power failure in a transformer only to realize it was a bomb explosion. They had to devise how the rescue operations would be coordinated and how they would communicate amongst themselves. First they had to assign specific box members to both towers to refer to specific areas incase the fire had extended to those towers as initially it had only affected the Vistas hotel. All this was done to make rescue operations easier and it proved practical in future operations such as the 2001 WTC bombings. (Schoenman, 1993)

            Prior to and during the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, the fire system departments adhered to a high rise emergency approach. This approach maintained that only those who are directly affected by the attacks would be evacuated. “The ‘Defend in Place’ concept recommended evacuating only those floors immediately at risk from a fire urging other occupants to stay where they are and relying on the buildings fixed fire protection and suppression systems for protection.” (Nicholson, 2001) This was done on the understanding that the rescue route for the emergency personnel would be free as there would be minimal movements of the victims. This was also believed that it would keep the number of people standing outside both the by standers and the victims thereby, minimizing the number of evacuees that would be injured by the falling debris.

            Looked from a logical perspective this makes sense but in that those movements would limit rescue operations incase there was a more serious case. This was realized after this bombing because those who tried to save themselves stood at a better position than those who did not. (Nicholson J. 2001). That was why the Port Authority changed this approach and introduced another system. Were it not for this change there would have been many victims during the 2001’s World Trade Center bombings as the incidence was more serious than that of 1993. In 2001, it only took one hour for people to escape from the twin towers thereby averting many deaths that would have resulted unlike during the 1993’s bombing where it took about three hours for people to escape.

            According to Craighead, (2003) after the 1993’s World Trade Centre bombings, the US emergency response units started to train American population on various evacuation techniques and all office workers were oriented on the stair walls so that they would familiarize themselves with various exit routes incase there was repeat of the same. This training proved fruitful during the 2001’s attacks as many people were able to escape from these buildings quickly and effectively as they were familiar with the safety exit routes otherwise the list of casualties would have been longer. (Schoenman, 1993)

            The 1993’s bombing served as a wake up call to the emergency department as the incidence exposed the flaws that were there in the system. After this, various researches were conducted to establish why there were so many people who were injured and it was established that some policies and approaches that the fire fighters and police followed were inappropriate for example the approach of evacuating only those who were closely affected led to the increase in the number of those that were injured as they had to remain in their floors instead of saving themselves. This approach was changed and it proved to be productive during the 2001’s bombings where many would have died if the old system and approach were still in use.
References:

Craighead, G. 2003. High-rise Security and Fire Life Safety. 2nd Edition. Butterworth-

            Heinemann.

Juergensmeyer, M. 2003. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious

            Violence. 3rd Edition. University of California Press.

Parachini J.V., 2001. February 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center in New                 York City. Extracted from Tucker’s, book: Toxic Terror. Available at http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/wtc93.htm

Simon R.1999. The New Jackals. Northeastern University Press.

Nicholson J. 2001. World Trade Center Aftermath: Evacuation. NFPA Journal.         Available at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3737/is_200111/ai_n8976053                                                                                          Schoenman R. 1993. Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? 1993. Growing    Evidence Points to Role of FBI Operative. Prevailing Winds Magazine,         Number 3.

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