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Ramzi Ahmed Yousef or Ramzi Mohammed Yousef (also transliterated as Ramzi Yusuf, Ramzi Youssef, and other ways), birth name possibly Abdul Basit Karim. He is believed to be one of the masterminds behind the first World Trade Center attack. United States, authorities say he was an Al-Qaeda terrorist and agent. When finally captured Yousef cited sympathy for the Palestinian cause as the inspiration for his actions.
Yousef used Najy Awaita Haddad, Paul Vijay, Adam Sali, Adam Adel Ali, Adam Khan Baluch, Doctor Adel Sabah, Doctor Richard Smith, and 14 other aliases to obscure his identity.
Introduction into international terrorism
His nationality is disputed. The father of Yousef and the father of Yousef's uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, are believed to be from the Baluchistan province of Pakistan. Yousef was possibly raised in Kuwait. The man thought to be the father was a guest worker. Guest workers were treated as second-class citizens in Kuwait.
Whatever the circumstances of his upbringing, Yousef attended college in the United Kingdom. He studied electrical engineering there. Starting in the late 1980s, Yousef took spring break trips to Pakistan.
In 1992, Yousef entered the United States with a false Iraqi passport. His partner, Ahmed Ajaj , who also had a false passport, was arrested on the spot after his passport was proven false and instructions for making bombs was found in his luggage. INS holding cells were overcrowded, so Yousef was told to come back in one month. He travelled around New York and New Jersey and called Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a controversial Muslim preacher, via cell phone. Yousef got the manuals back from his partner.
He got conspirators and tried obtaining mixing chemicals to make a bomb. After a hospital stay from a car accident, Yousef got back the manuals from his car, which was in a police impound.
During an interview of Abdul Rahman Yasin that was held by CBS, Yasin says that Yousef originally wanted to bomb Jewish neighborhoods in New York City, New York. Yasin says that after he toured Crown Heights and Williamsburg, that Yousef changed his mind. Yasin asserts that Yousef got educated in bomb-making at a training camp in Peshawar.
Yousef then rented a Ryder van. On February 26, 1993, the van was loaded with explosives and driven into the garage of the World Trade Center, where it exploded (in a later interrogation Yousef told investigators that the plan had been to take out structural parts of the foundation and make one tower collapse into the other). He escaped to Pakistan hours later. After meeting up with terrorist friends, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, he stayed in safe houses funded by Osama bin Laden.
The Global Militant
After fleeing New York, Yousef returned to Pakistan where he is believed to have moved regularly between Quetta and Pakistan. In the summer of 1993 he reportedly took up a contract initiated by members of Sipah-e-Sahaba to assassinate the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. The plot failed when Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad were interrupted by police outside Bhutto’s residence as they planted the bomb. At this point Yousef decided to abort the bombing, however as they attempted to recover it the device blew up, injuring Yousef who was rushed to the hospital by Murad.
Yousef continued to demonstrate his willingness to strike non-Western targets when he allegedly became involved in an attack with other Sunni extremists on the Iman Reza Shrine in Mashad, Iran which killed twenty-six pilgrims and injured two hundred.
In 1994 Yousef travelled to South-East Asia and attempted to bomb the Israeli embassy in Bangkok with a device similar to the one he used in New York. En route to delivering the device the truck carrying the bomb collided with a motorcyclist, causing either Yousef or a co-conspirator to flee immediately, leaving the bomb behind.
The trio were sent to Manila, Philippines. Yousef made assassination plots to kill Pope John Paul II and United States President Bill Clinton. The second plan was dismissed. The first became part of Operation Bojinka, but would not get implemented since the plot got exposed.
While he was in the Philippines, Yousef courted local women in clubs and went on scuba trips. Yousef met his girlfriend, Carol Santiago, at a 7-11 store on Adriatico Street. Santiago was introduced to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed at the store. She knew him under the name Salem Ali. Mohammed claimed to be a Saudi businessman.
While in Manila, his first bombing was at a mall in Cebu City, which detonated several hours after Yousef placed it in the generator room. Nobody was hurt.
On December 11, Yousef boarded Philippine Airlines Flight 434, which was on a Manila-Cebu-Tokyo route. Yousef assembled a bomb and planted it under his seat on the first leg of the flight. He left the plane at Cebu. The bomb exploded on the second leg, killing one passenger. The plane made an emergency landing in Okinawa, Japan.
Yousef and Mohammed had already started crafting Operation Bojinka. The plot would have had catastrophic consequences if it was carried out. The plot was abandoned after an apartment fire occurred in Manila, Philippines.
The fire was started when one of Yousef's friends started a chemical fire in his apartment. Yousef's plan was discovered on a notebook personal computer inside his apartment, two weeks before it would have been implemented. Murad was sent to the apartment to retrieve the computer after the fire department left, but he was arrested and later tortured. He confessed to being part of the Bojinka plan.
The Committed Militant
Yousef returned to Pakistan after the apartment fire in Manila and soon began plotting to fulfill part of his unsuccessful Bojinka plot. Using the same design as the bombs intended for Bojinka, Yousef planned to conceal the devices inside toy cars and plant them on United and Northwest flights out of Bangkok.
To carry out the attack he recruited Istaique Parker, a South African Muslim living in Pakistan. Parker flew to Bangkok with Yousef where they built the devices. Parker got cold feet at the last minute and could not summon the courage to check-in the luggage containing the bombs.
After returning to Pakistan, Parker became aware of the $2 million bounty being offered by the US government for the capture of Yousef. Shortly later Parker contacted the United States Embassy in Islamabad and became an informant.
On February 7, 1995, Yousef was arrested by a group of FBI, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, and Pakistani police officers at the Su-Casa Guest House in Islamabad, Pakistan before he could rebase himself in Peshawar. He had been betrayed by a man he tried to recruit. Yousef was found with fingers with chemical burns on them.
He was sent to a prison in New York, New York, United States, and held there until his trial. On September 5, 1996, Yousef, Murad, and Shah were convicted for planning Bojinka. They were sentenced to life in prison without parole. In court, Yousef said, "I am a terrorist, and I am proud of it."
In 1997, Osama bin Laden said that he never personally knew Ramzi Yousef in an interview.
He is currently held in the Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. This is the same prison in which the Unabomber, and Terry Nichols, are to be incarcerated for life. It is also the prison that held Timothy McVeigh before his 2001 execution.
His uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would succeed in launching the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, which were built from parts of Operation Bojinka. He too would be arrested after the United States campaign in Afghanistan.
- The New Jackals by Simon Reeve
- 1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism and The FBI by Peter Lance
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