Are there conceptual similarities in the terrorism employed in the plot to destroy the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 and the plot to destroy Radio Free Europe in Prague in 1998?


Yes, in at least 3 respects:

1) Both plots planned to use truck bombs against symbolic American targets in the hearts of heavily-populated cities, where, if successful, they would inflict massive civilian casualties.

The 1993 conspirators in New York parked a Ford Econoline cargo van loaded with 1500 pounds of urea-nitrate based explosives in the parking garage of North Tower of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. It tore a huge hole in the north tower, killing 6 people, and injuring about one thousand.

The 1998 conspirators in Prague planned to use a similar truck bomb loaded with explosives to collapse the headquarters of Radio Free Europe. The facility, located in the former Czech Parliament building on Wenceslas Square, is adjacent to the busiest cross-town thoroughfare in Prague. The bombing, if carried out at midday, could have been expected to inflict Bali-scale casualties on civilians in the area. (As it turned out, the plot was aborted when the intelligence officer supervising it defected to British intelligence.)

2) At the most visible level, both plots were designed to use Islamic jihadists to transport and detonate the truck bombs so that their would be no tracks, or fingerprints, other those of the jihadists. The 1993 New York conspirators used Palestine and Egyptian Arabs living in New Jersey to park the truck in the garage of the World Trade Center. The 1998 Prague conspirators attempted to recruit free-lance Arab terrorists to position the truck bomb against he supporting columns of Radio Free Europe.

3) At a less visible level, conspirators in both plots received support from a state, if not state-sponsorship.

The attempted bombing of Radio Free Europe was planned, organized and directed by the Iraqi intelligence service. The Iraqi official in charge was Jabir Salim, the Iraqi consul in the Czech Republic, and the head of its intelligence station. Salim had been sent $150,000 in two payments by Baghdad to buy untraceable explosives and recruit Arab free-lance terrorists that would provide the cover for Iraq. In December 1998, however, Salim defected and furnished details of the plot to western intelligence services.

The conspirators of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi, and Ramzi Yousef, a Baluchi, received at least logistical support in their escape from New York. Yasin was given sanctuary in Iraq (where he presently resides, even though he is on President Bush's most wanted list). Ramzi Yousef's escape from New York was facilitated by false documentation. He had a passport in the name of Abdul Basit Mahmood Abdul Karim, which could only have been created and supplied by the Iraqi intelligence service, as Laurie Mylroie documents in her book, Study of Revenge.

For this false documentation, or "legend," the Iraq intelligence officers needed Kuwait's Interior Ministry files, which were in Iraqi custody during the six month occupation of Kuwait. These records contained the biographical data about the real (and probably dead) Abdul Basit Mahmood Abdul Karim. The Iraqis then inserted into these records the real fingerprints of Yousef, so Yousef's identity would trace back to Kuwait. The Iraq government would have to authorize the preparation of such a legend, since it controlled Kuwait's Interior Ministry files. So both upper-echelon conspirators who escaped from New York after the attack were aided by Iraq.