Yousef was on of Al Queda's most talented operatives, completing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing after the FBI pulled the plug on a much less ambitious plan, bombing a Japan-bound 747 from the Phillipines, and possibly worked with the Oklahoma City bombers to create a very sophisticated bomb that devastated the federal building, while placing the blame away from Al Queda.
Ramzi Yousef (Arabic: رمزي يوسف, Ramzī Yūsuf; born May 20, 1967) was one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a co-conspirator in the Bojinka plot. In 1995, he was arrested at a guest house inIslamabad, by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and United States Diplomatic Security Service, thenextradited to the United States.
He was tried in New York City in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and along with two co-conspirators was convicted of planning the Bojinka plot. Yousef stated: "Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars and hypocrites." He was sentenced to two life sentences for his part in the World Trade Center bombing and Bojinka plot.
Yousef's uncle is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al-Qaeda member accused of being the principal architect of theSeptember 11 attacks. He is also in United States custody.
Yousef was born in Kuwait to a family of labourers originally from Balochistan, Pakistan. While the rest of the family returned to Pakistan in the mid 1980s, Yousef was sent to England to continue his education. He wears contact lenses.
In 1986, he enrolled at Swansea Institute in Wales where he studied electrical engineering, graduating four years later. He also studied at the Oxford College of Further Education to improve his English.
Yousef attended an Al-Qaeda training camp and became an expert in bomb making.
1993 World Trade Center bombing
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated below Tower One of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,500 lb (680 kg) urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two), to bring both towers down and kill thousands of people. It failed to do so but did kill six people and injured 1,042.
Ramzi Yousef sent a letter to the New York Times after bombing the WTC which spelled out the motive: "We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region." He later stated that he had hoped to kill 250,000 Americans to show them the exact pain they had caused to the Japanese in the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Arrival in America
On September 1, 1992, a few days after leaving Khalden training camp in Afghanistan Yousef allegedly entered the United States with an Iraqi passport of disputed authenticity. His companion, Ahmed Ajaj, carried multiple immigration documents among which was a crudely falsified Swedish passport. Providing a smokescreen to facilitate Yousef's entry, Ajaj was arrested on the spot as bomb manuals, videotapes of suicide car bombers and a cheat sheet on how to lie to U.S. immigration inspectors were found in his luggage. Directors of the American Counter-Terrorism program later tied the travel arrangements to a phone call fromOmar Rahman to the Pakistani telephone number 810604.
Yousef was held for 72 hours and repeatedly interrogated but INS holding cells were overcrowded and Yousef, claiming political asylum, was given a hearing date of November 9, 1992. He told Jersey City Police his name was Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim a Pakistani national born and brought up in Kuwait and that he had lost his passport. On December 31, 1992, the Pakistani Consulate in New York issued a temporary passport to Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim (SAAG 484 2002).
Yousef travelled around New York and New Jersey during which time he made calls to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a militant Muslim preacher, via cell phone. Between December 3 and December 27, 1992, he made conference calls to key numbers in Baluchistan (SAAG 484 2002).
Ajaj never reclaimed the manuals and tapes which remained at the FBI's New York Office after Judge Reena Raggi had ordered the materials released in December 1992. (Lance 2004 pp 51, 101)
Assembling the bomb
Yousef, aided by Mohammed Salameh and Mahmud Abouhalima who were both present in El Sayyid Nosair's home the night Rabbi Meir Kahane was assassinated, began assembling the 1,500 lb (680 kg) urea nitrate-fuel oil device in his Pamrapo Avenue home in Jersey City ready for delivery to the WTC on February 26, 1993. He ordered chemicals from his hospital room when he had been injured in a car crash — one of three accidents caused by Salameh in late 1992 and early in 1993.
Speaking in code by phone on December 29, 1992, Ajaj told Yousef that he had won release of the bomb manuals but warned Yousef that picking them up himself might jeopardize his "business". On one book carried by Ajaj in 1992 there was a word which had been translated by the FBI as meaning "the basic rule" – this was later found to actually be "al Qaeda" – meaning "the base" (Lance 2004 p 32).
During a CBS interview co-conspirator Abdul Rahman Yasin said that Ramzi originally wanted to bomb Jewish neighborhoods in New York City. Yasin added that after touring Crown Heights and Williamsburg Yousef had changed his mind. Yasin alleged that Yousef was educated in bomb-making at a training camp inPeshawar, Pakistan.
Explosion and aftermath
Yousef rented a Ryder van and on February 26, 1993, loaded it with explosives. Four cardboard boxes were packed into the back of the van, each containing a mixture of paper bags, newspapers, urea, and nitric acid and next to them were placed three red metal cylinders of compressed hydrogen. Four large containers of nitroglycerin were loaded into the center of the van with Atlas Rockmaster blasting caps connected to each (Reeve 1999 pp 154 ).
The van was driven into the garage of the World Trade Center where it exploded. Using his Pakistani passport, Yousef fled to Iraq hours later. He remained at large until his capture in 1995.
As a result of the bombing, the FBI made Yousef the 436th person to be added to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on April 21, 1993.
1993 Benazir Bhutto assassination attempt
After returning to Pakistan in February 1993 Yousef was in hiding after his unsuccessful attempt to destroy the World Trade Center. In the summer of 1993 Yousef allegedly took up a contract to assassinate the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, which was initiated by members of Sipah-e-Sahaba. The plot failed when Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad were interrupted by police outside Bhutto’s residence. At this point Yousef decided to abort the bombing and as they attempted to recover the device it blew up. Yousef went into hiding during the investigation.
1993 Iranian shrine bombing
After a failed attempt to bomb the Israeli embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Yousef moved back to Pakistan and plotted a bombing inside Iran. Yousef has a deep hatred of Shiite Muslims, and most Iranians are Shiites. On June 20, 1994, a Shiite holy day, Yousef bombed the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran, one of the holiest and most important Shiite shrines. The attack killed 26 people and injured over 200. The group Yousef worked with this time included his younger brother,Abdul Muneem, and his own father, who was arrested and detained in Iran. While Yousef generally worked in concert with, or by orders from, Osama bin Laden, the Mashhad bombing ran counter to bin Laden’s efforts that year to work with the Iranian-influenced Hezbollah militant group. 
After the Iranian shrine bombing, Yousef soon began planning the unsuccessful Bojinka Plot. The plan involved assassinating Pope John Paul II while he visited thePhilippines, then, with attention focused on the Pope's death, planting bombs placed inside toy cars on United Airlines and Delta Airlines flights out of Bangkok.
Philippine Airlines Flight 434
On December 11, 1994, Yousef conducted a trial run of the plan by boarding a Philippine Airlines Boeing 747 designated as PAL434 from Manila to Tokyo, Japan, with a stopover in the Philippine city of Cebu. His identity for the flight was that of an Italian man named Armaldo Forlani. The cabin crew for this leg of the flight would later tell investigators that Yousef changed seats several times during the relatively short flight with his last seat change coming after a return from the lavatory.
Yousef assembled a bomb in the lavatory, set the timer to detonate four hours later, and put it in the lifejacket pocket under seat 26K on the right-hand side of the fuselage. Domestic flight attendant Maria Delacruz noticed that Yousef kept switching seats during the course of the Manila to Cebu flight, but the new cabin crew boarding at Cebu were not warned of this behavior. Yousef and 25 other passengers left the plane at Cebu, where 256 passengers and a different cabin crew boarded for the trip to Tokyo. Many of them consisted of Japanese people; some of them were coworkers traveling as part of a tour group. Airport congestion delayed the departure of Flight 434 from Cebu for 38 minutes. All of the passengers had boarded by 8:30 a.m. with the bomb having been planted around two hours earlier. PAL 434 cleared for takeoff at 8:48 a.m.
Two hours before arrival at Tokyo, at 11:43 am, the bomb exploded while Flight 434 cruised on autopilot 31,000 feet (9,400 m) above Minami Daito Island (near Okinawa Island and approximately 260 miles (420 km) southwest of Tokyo). The explosion ripped the body of 24-year old Haruki Ikegami (池上春樹 Ikegami Haruki ), the Japanese businessman occupying seat 26K, in half. Ten passengers sitting in the seats in front of and behind Ikegami were also injured. One needed urgent medical care. The bomb tore out a two square-foot (0.2 m2) portion of the cabin floor, revealing the cargo hold underneath, but leaving the fuselage of the plane intact. The rapid expansion of energy from the bomb caused the plane to expand vertically slightly, damaging cables to the steering and aileron controls, but the bomb's orientation—front-to-back, angled slightly upward from horizontal—caused the energy to be mostly absorbed by Haruki Ikegami's body, killing the businessman but sparing the other passengers and the plane from catastrophic damage.
In spite of the damage to the steering and aileron controls, the cockpit crew were able to manipulate the plane's speed and direction by varying the engines' throttle settings. Captain Eduardo Reyes was able to make an emergency landing at Naha Airport on Okinawa (southern Japan), saving 272 passengers and 20 crew. The plane became a crime scene and bomb fragments found in and around the blast zone, as well as the lower half of Ikegami's body, provided clues pointing investigators back to Manila.
Discovery by police
After the successful test run of his trial bomb, Yousef returned to Manila and began preparing at least a dozen bombs each with a larger weight of explosive materials. Just weeks before the Bojinka Plot was due to be launched, however, a fire started in Yousef's Manila flat, forcing Yousef to flee the room, leaving everything behind. The fire made the apartment staff suspicious, and soon police, led by Aida Fariscal, raided the flat and uncovered the plot. A Philippine National Police raid in another Manila apartment also revealed evidence that Abdul Murad, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Yousef had drawn up plans for flying an airplane into the CIA headquarters. The information was passed on to the FAA, who warned individual airlines.
1995 U.S. airliner bombing attempt
Despite the international manhunt for Yousef, he had managed to escape from Manila to Pakistan. On January 31, 1995, Yousef flew from Pakistan to Thailand and met with associate Istaique Parker. Yousef told Parker to check two suitcases filled with bombs, one on a Delta Airlines flight and another on a United Airlines flight. Both bombs were timed to blow up over populated areas of the U.S. Parker spent much of the day at the airport, but was reportedly too scared to approach the airlines with the suitcases. Finally, Parker returned to Yousef's hotel and lied that employees at the airline cargo sections were asking for passports and fingerprints, making it too risky to go ahead with the plan.
Yousef, still wanting to get the bombs on a plane bound for the U.S., called a friend with diplomatic immunity in Qatar who was willing to take the suitcases to London and then fly them to the U.S., where they would explode mid-flight and destroy the plane. Yousef planned to use the friend's diplomatic immunity to ensure the suitcases would be loaded on the plane. According to Simon Reeve's book The New Jackals, the name of this friend has not been revealed, but his father is said to be a very senior politician and leading member of the establishment in Qatar (at the time, Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was living in Qatar as the guest of a Qatari cabinet official). However, a problem developed and the planned planting of the suitcases could not be carried out. Yousef and Parker returned to Pakistan on February 2, 1995.(Reeve 1999 pp 98–100)
Arrest, conviction and prison life
Following a tip-off from Istaique Parker, on February 7, 1995, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents, including Bill Miller and Jeff Riner, raided room number 16 in the Su-Casa Guest House in Islamabad, Pakistan, and captured Yousef before he could move to Peshawar. Parker was paid $2 million for the information leading to Yousef's capture (Rewards for Justice – RFJ). During the raid, agents found Delta Air Lines and United Airlines flight schedules and bomb components in children's toys, and Yousef was found to have chemical burns on his fingers.
Yousef was sent to a prison in New York City and held there until his trial. In court Yousef said, "Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars and hypocrites." On September 5, 1996, Yousef and two co-conspirators were convicted for their role in the Bojinka plot and were sentenced to life in prison without parole. U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Duffy referred to Yousef as "an apostle of evil" before recommending that the entire sentence be served in solitary confinement.
On November 12, 1997 Yousef was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing and in 1998 he was convicted of "seditious conspiracy" to bomb the World Trade Center towers.
The judge sentenced Yousef to 240 years for the Trade Center attack, and life in prison for killing Haruki Ikegami in 1994.
He is held at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. The handcuffs Ramzi Yousef wore when he was captured in Pakistan are displayed at the FBI Museum in Washington, DC. His Federal Prisoner number is: 03911-000.
According to interviews with ADX Florence staff Yousef prayed almost every hour and refused to leave his cell for recreation when he first arrived at the facility as he did not wish to undergo the required strip search. Ramzi made frequent, unsuccessful attempts to convert Timothy McVeigh to Islam when sharing the same cell.
Yousef now leaves his cell and claims to have converted to Christianity, though the prison staff do not believe Yousef's conversion is sincere.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
In 1997, Osama bin Laden said during an interview that he did not know Yousef but claimed to know Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the mastermind behind theSeptember 11, 2001 attacks and Yousef's uncle. According to the 9/11 Commission, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said under interrogation that "Yousef was not a member of al Qaeda and that Yousef never met Bin Laden."
- ^ a b Michael McCurry (August 2, 1993). "Department statements - State Department; statements by Spokesman Michael McCurry on Cuba and reward for arrest of terrorist Ramzi Ahmed Yousef - Transcript". US Department of State Dispatch. Retrieved August 28, 2007. "He was born on May 20, 1967, and travels on an Iraqi passport. He may also claim to be from the United Arab Emirates. In the past, Yousef has used the aliases Ramzi Yousef Ahmad, Rasheed Yousef, Ramzi Ahmad Yousef, Muhammud Azan, Ramzi Yousef, Rashid Rashid, Kamal Ibraham, Ramzi Yousef Ahmed, and Abdul Bassett."
- ^ Some of the many aliases Yousef used to obsure his identity were "Najy Awaita Haddad" (as a Moroccan national registered at Dona Josefa Apartments, Manila, 1995), Dr "Paul Vijay", Dr "Adel Sabah", Dr. "Richard Smith", "Azan Muhammed", "Armaldo Forlani", "Muhammad Ali Baloch", "Kamal Ibraham", and "Khuram Khan" (Lance 2004, p.23)
- ^ a b Wright, Robin (4 December 2008). "State's Security Bureau Takes on Expanded Role". Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- ^ a b c d Simon Reeve (June 27, 2002). The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the future of terrorism. Northeastern University Press.ISBN 1555535097.
- ^ Targeted: Volume 1, The Evil Genius (Ramzi Yousef) (Wild Eyes Productions for the History Channel; A&E Networks) 2003
- ^ CNN.com, January 8, 1998. "'Proud terrorist' gets life for Trade Center Bombing". CNN. Retrieved September 19, 2006.
- ^ a b New York Times, January 9, 1998. "Excerpts From Statements in Court". The New York Times. January 9, 1998. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
- ^ a b Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the manhunt for the al-Qaeda terrorists", 2002
- ^ a b Wallace, Charles. Toronto Star, "Web of terrorism targeted US jets", May 28, 1995
- ^ Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the al-Qaeda", 2002
- ^ Whitlock, Craig (July 5, 2005). "Homemade, Cheap and Dangerous — Terror Cells Favor Simple Ingredients In Building Bombs". Washington Post.
- ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, Knopf, (2006) p.178
- ^ a b c Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon. "The Age of Sacred Terror", 2002
- ^ a b Peter Lance (September 7, 2004). Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror. William Morrow. ISBN 0060543558.
- ^ 60 Minutes (May 31, 2002). "60 Minutes: The Man Who Got Away". 60 Minutes. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
- ^ "Context of 'Mid-1994: Ramzi Yousef Works Closely with Al-Qaeda Leaders". Historycommons.org. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
- ^ a b c d e f g "Bomb on Board," Mayday season 3, episode 6. First aired 2005.
- ^ Yousef bombs Philippines Airlines Flight 434, GlobalSecurity.Org report on incident
- ^ Strasser,:D Steven. "The 9/11 Investigations", "Excerpts from the House-Senate Joint Inquiry Response on 9/11, pp. 443
- ^ "Judge recommends life in solitary for World Trade Center plotter". Associated Press. January 9, 1998. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
- ^ "Trade Center bombing mastermind gets life sentence, possibly in".Dallas Morning News. Jan 9, 1998. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- ^ Zuckerman, M.J. (August 26, 1998). "Bin Laden indicted for bid to kill Clinton". USA Today. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- ^ a b Federal Bureau of Prisons (2007). "Locate a Federal Inmate".Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved August 28, 2007. "1. RAMZI AHMED YOUSEF 03911-000 39 White M LIFE FLORENCE ADMAX USP"
- ^ "On this day, Jan. 8, 1998". Washington Examiner. Jan 8, 2009. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- ^ "Supermax: A Clean Version Of Hell". CBS News. October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- ^ Michel, Lou and Herbeck, Dan. American Terrorist. pp. 360–361.ISBN 0060394072.
- ^ a b "My Trip to SuperMax". CBS News. October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- ^ 9/11 Commission Report, Notes, p. 489.
- Simon Reeve (June 27, 2002). The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the future of terrorism. Northeastern University Press.ISBN 1555535097.
- Peter Lance (September 7, 2004). Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror. William Morrow. ISBN 0060543558.
Ramsi Yousef, Al Queda and the Oklahoma City Bombing