September 30, 2000
Building Community Message: Terrorism Sneaks Ashore
Dear Building Community Family,
Terrorism Sneaks Ashore is the first or a five-part series. It does not deal with natural disaster. It is disaster by humanity's own hand.
Terrorism has become a very real threat, something for which we
need to prepare as best we can. It has the potential to affect
every single person on this planet. In some countries, people
have been victimized by these events for years, but acts of terrorism
have only recently come upon our own shores.
We will examine terrorist events which have taken place recently,
how the government is addressing this issue, who are these terrorist
groups, what the future likely holds, why we should be concerned,
and what we can do.
WHAT HAPPENED TO 'SAFE AND SNUG AS A BUG?'
1993 - our safe womb of "invincibility" was blown to hell. No
longer could we rest easy thinking, "it only happens over there". This single event forced us to admit terrorism had trampled
our hallowed soil.
February 26th, the New York World Trade Center's basement exploded
into a nightmare. Six people lost their lives and 1042 persons
were injured. Casualties fell far short of the terrorists' intentions.
Jordan, was charged with driving the explosives-filled van. Both Muslim fundamentalists face life imprisonment. Nidal Ayyad, a Palestinian fundamentalist; Mahmud Abu Halima, an Egyptian fundamentalist; and two others, were also convicted in the World Trade Center bombing. Their motive? Prejudice and hatred of Israel and retaliation for supporting this country.
|An enormous 1200 pound (544 kg) urea nitrate bomb had been driven into the Trade Center's garage. The plan was to topple one of the 110 foot Twin Towers into the other - like giant dominos. People gaped in horror at the resulting crater measuring 200 by 150 feet (61 by 45.7 meters) across and five stories deep! The blast caused the ceiling of the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) train station to collapse, injuring another 50 people. Damages exceeded $550+ million.
Ramzi Yousef's plan was to kill 250,000 Americans, not six. To further insure maximum death, cyanide was dispersed with the bomb. They had not counted on the explosion's heat vaporizing this lethal gas.1
Ramzi Yousef, 29, masterminded the bombing and is likely an Iraqi agent. Eyad Ismoil, 26, a Palestinian from
Who would have thought terrorism could touch America's heartland?
It is not the site of major commerce like Wall Street, nor the
seat of Federal government. Though it is within fifteen miles
of Tinker Air Force Base, that was not the target either. Instead,
Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building reaped the misery.
|LEFT: Night shot of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.
RIGHT: Task Force members view collapsed layers of the Murrah Building
from the ground floor.
Photos credit: FEMA
- We didn't need another kick in the belly, but perhaps we needed
another louder, stronger warning. It came just two years after
the World Trade Center bombing on April 19, 1995.
Wednesday's work day was well under way by 9:00 and Spring's renewing
freshness scented the air. At 9:02 the normalcy of that bright
morning shattered when the entire front of the Federal Building
blew out along with all windows in a two block area. The unthinkable had happened again.
This bombing WAS the single most lethal act of terrorism in U.S. history. It stole 168 lives including a nurse who died during rescue efforts.
A well-placed bomb carved a massive 20 foot wide, eight foot deep
crater. The second story of the Murrah Building housed a day care
center. Its nearness to the blast cost 19 children their lives.
Fear, mixed with anger and sorrow, spread across America like
oozing, sticky tar. We were no longer America The Beautiful. We
had become America The Terrorized.
Justice was swift. Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death by lethal
injection and Terry Nichols was convicted of involuntary manslaughter
and conspiring with McVeigh. It has been strongly suggested that
Saddam Hussein might be tied to the bombing in retaliation for
the Gulf War. Was it coincidence the explosion occurred on the
second anniversary of the Gulf War's end?
1. Setting a course of action, on June 21, 1995, President Clinton
signed PPD-39 (Presidential Decision Directive), dealing with counterterrorism.
This PPD addressed America's susceptibility to weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) and how the U.S. plans to manage these emergencies
in the future. It places the FBI over "crisis management" while
FEMA is left to deal with the terrorist attack's chaos. By having
this formal PPD, we, as a country, acknowledged our vulnerability.
2. The Domestic Preparedness "Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996" (more commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici legislation)
initiative was formed under FY 1997 Defense Authorization Bill
(Public Law 104-201, September 23, 1996). The bill provides funding
for the Department of Defense to better equip federal, state and
local emergency responders (people who train the trainers) to
deal with incidents of nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism.
As a result, $42.6 million was allocated to help prepare 120 cities
against terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Each
of these 120 cities will be assessed by medical and weapons experts
on the city's ability to deal with these types of terrorist attacks.
As of April 2000, assessment had been completed on 75 cities.
This is the largest civil defense initiative since the Cold War.2
3. On May 22, 1998, President Clinton signed two more decision directives.
PPD-62, the Combatting Terrorism Directive, underscoring PPD-39. The
directive's lead-in sentence says it all.
- "It is increasingly likely that terrorist groups, or individuals with criminal intent, may
unconventional methods to disrupt the Nation's critical infrastructure
or use weapons of
mass destruction (WMD) against our citizens."
4. PPD-63, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Directive, addresses
security for infrastructure and further outlines the issue of
protecting citizens against a terrorist's use of WMD.
5. Operation TOPOFF - short for "top officers" - unfolded. This
program drilled three cities: Denver, Washington and Portsmouth,
New Hampshire and their capabilities to deal with a WMD attack.
The exercise ran for 10 consecutive days in each city with the
vast majority of personnel unapprised of the scenario. Authorities
released some of the details to the citizenry so they would not
become unduly alarmed; however, When the exercise began, notification
went out to all hospitals, law enforcement agencies, National
Guard and state agencies. Most of the training was kept from public
view except for that which involved hospitals and other public
Since 1995, we have witnessed several waves of terrorism, though
not necessarily on our own soil.
August 15, 1998
IRA dissidents killed 29 people with a car bomb in the religiously-mixed
town of Omagh. It was the worst-ever terrorist attack in Northern
August 7, 1998
|Bombs exploded at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing
259 people, including 12 Americans. Washington responded with
cruise missile attacks on sites supposedly linked to Osama bin
Laden. This public strike on a terrorist was a rare occurrence.
Since this event, 11 other U.S. embassies have experienced threats
of terrorism in Malaysia, Albania, Zambia, Israel, Burundi, Tajikistan,
Czech Republic, Sudan, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique and Chad.
July 2000: The State Department canceled two Independence Day
celebrations, one in the Middle East and another in Europe, because
of the threat of terrorism. Ditto for U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan,
and a street fair in Brussels, Belgium. Threats were disclosed.
November 17, 1997
Muslim militants marched into the Temple of Hatshepsut in southern
Egypt and massacred 58 tourists. This incident was one of the
deadliest acts of terrorism directed specifically at tourists.
July 27, 1996
The 1996 Atlanta Olympic games -- Not since the Munich games of
'72 had the Olympic events been tarred by terrorists. In Atlanta's
Centennial Park, a crude pipe bomb detonated at 1:25am. Richard
Jewell was held by the FBI as the most likely suspect, but later
released for lack of hard evidence. The likeliest targets were
the police since a call was placed from a pay phone near the explosion.
A voice warned, "There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have
30 minutes." With the officers lured to Centennial Park, the bombed
exploded in just 22 minutes. Two people lost there lives and more
than 100 were injured. The bomber was never found.
March 20, 1995
Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese cult, launched a sarin nerve gas attack
on the Tokyo subway killing 12 and injuring 5,500. This assault
was the first non-military/non-governmental use of chemical weapons
Other waves of terrorist attacks include those against bus stations
and markets in Israel, bombings close to tourist areas in Paris,
France; near daily bombings in Algeria, more chemical attacks
in Tokyo; the destruction of a U.S. military barracks in Saudi
Arabia, frequent attacks involving the IRA; and literally hundreds
of other unassociated acts of extreme violence too numerous to
Stan and Holly Deyo
© Text and Graphics, 2000 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise