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Trade Center Bombing Arrest Shows Breakthrough on Terrorism

By Ron Scherer / February 10, 1995



NEW YORK

WITH the arrest of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged ``mastermind'' of the World Trade Center bombing, the United States will be mounting yet another major terrorism trial.

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Mr. Yousef, who was arrested on Tuesday in Pakistan, was arraigned yesterday in the federal district court. The FBI had placed $2 million ransom on Yousef's capture and he was the subject of a massive world-wide manhunt. At his arraignment, Yousef pleaded not guilty.

Yousef's trial could be among the most revealing of the bombing trials since the FBI considers him to be a professional terrorist. The FBI believes he was involved in a plot to assassinate the Pope during the Pontiff's recent trip to the Philippines.

Terrorism expert Michael Dobkowski of Hobart and William Smith College calls Yousef's arrest ``a major breakthrough'' in the battle against terrorism. ``It is unlikely he will talk but the process of capturing him and the connections in New York and Pakistan and wherever else and the safe houses he had will be assimilated and will be useful for the future,'' he says.

Mr. Dobkowski says those connections will help the FBI better understand the terrorism network. In fact, there are unconfirmed reports that he was captured in part from information received from one of the convicted bombers. ``It is part of the break in the network,'' Dobkowski notes.

During last year's trial of four radical Middle Eastern men convicted of participating in the 1993 bombing, Yousef was described by defense lawyers as the ``evil genius'' behind the bombing. He fled to Pakistan six hours after the bombing.

The government's case will likely use many of the same exhibits that helped convict four other men. Yousef roomed with Mohammed Salameh, who rented the van that carried the bomb into the basement of the World Trade Center.