December 2 1975 Terrorist attacks in the Netherlands.

Train

On December 2, 1975, 7 South Moluccan terrorists hijacked a train with about 50 passengers on board in open countryside near the village of Wijster, halfway between Hoogeveen and Beilen in the northern part of the Netherlands. The hijacking lasted for 12 days and 3 hostages, including the driver were killed.

The terrorists were seeking independence for South Molucca, a group of islands in the Western Pacific under Indonesian rule. Indonesia had been a Dutch colony until the late 1940’s.

At  10:07 the emergency cord was pulled on the local train Groningen-Zwolle.

Simultaneously 7 other south Moluccan terrorists had occupied the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam.

The train driver, Hans Braam, was immediately killed.

When on the third day the Dutch government had not give in to  the hijackers’s demands, 22-year-old national serviceman Leo Bulter was murdered and his body together with Hans Braam’s body  were thrown out of the train on the rails. That night 14 hostages managed to escape from the train.

The following day a young economist Bert Bierling was brought to the doors and shot  in full view of the police and the military as well as the press.

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On December 11, the terrorists  released two elderly hostages after talks aboard the train with four mediators. This left at least 27 prisoners on the train.

On 14 December the hijackers surrendered. Among reasons for surrender were reports about retaliations on the Moluccan islands and the sub-zero temperatures in and around the train.

The occupation and hostage situation at the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam ended on December 19. one hostage was killed.

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9/11 : 2996 minus 19

9 11

9/11 they used to be just 2 numbers until that fateful day in 2001. Ever since then it has become ingrained in the human psyche as one of the days the world changed.

Even now ,18 years later it is hard to fathom the events of that day. Even when it happened it was hard to believe even though we could see it unfold in front of our eyes on TV screens or otherwise.

It was the day where we experienced evil and ruthlessness on so many levels. I say ruthlessness for it wasn’t only displayed by the terrorist. I worked at a telecom company at the time and about half an hour after the attacks, I received a call from a Banker in Switzerland complaining about telephony and data loss between Zürich and New York. He complained even though he was well aware what had happened, to him all that mattered was money transfers.

The one thing that bothers me is the fact that the reported number of casualties is 2996. This includes the 19 who committed the attacks, as if they were victims. Those 19 evil monsters, should not be included in that number. It diminishes the respect and the memories of the real victims.

These are the numbers we should focus on

Total number killed in attacks in New York: 2,753

Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343

Number of NYPD officers: 23

Number of Port Authority police officers: 37

Total Number of people killed on United Airlines Flight 93: 40

Total Number killed at the Pentagon attack:184.

2977, each a different story of innocent lives destroyed.

I don’t know all the stories but I know a bit of the story of ‘Victim 0001’

Judge

Mychal Judge

Mychal Judge was born Robert Emmett Judge on May 11, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of immigrants from County Leitrim, Ireland. His father died when he was still a child.To earn income following his father’s death, Judge shined shoes at New York Penn Station.

After spending his freshman year at the St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn, where he studied under the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, in 1948, at the age of 15, Judge began the formation process to enter the Order of Friars Minor.In 1961, he was ordained a priest.

In 1992, Judge was appointed a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. As chaplain, he offered encouragement and prayers at fires, rescues, and hospitals, and counseled firemen and their families, often working 16-hour days.

When the planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Father Mychal Judge ran into the North Tower alongside the firemen he served..

At the time, French documentary filmmakers were inside the North tower. Their camera captured some of the last moments of Mychal Judge’s life. In the film, according to his friend, Father Michael Duffy, you can see the priest standing by the plate glass window, watching the bodies fall on the patio outside.

“And if you look closely at that film, you’ll see his lips moving,” Duffy stated. “Now, for those of us who know him, he wasn’t one that talked to himself. He was praying. And absolving people as they fell to their death.”

Moments later, the South Tower collapsed. The force of the explosion shattered the windows and flung the priest across the lobby. In the darkness, some firemen stumbled over his body.

Mychal Judge was designated as “Victim 0001” and thereby recognized as the first official victim of the attacks.

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The bombing of a florist shop that inadvertently caused the death of 583

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On this day  42 years ago, at Tenerife-North Airport (formerly Los Rodeos), two Boeing 747’s – one KLM, the other  Pan Am – crashed on a foggy runway. 583 people were killed in what remains the biggest air disaster in history.

Neither of the planed were supposed to be there, they had both been diverted after a terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport,

The Canary Islands Independence Movement (CIIM), also known as the Movement for the Independence and Self-determination of the Canaries Archipelago is a defunct independent movement organization that had a radio station in Algiers and resorted to violence in attempts to force the Spanish government to create an independent state in the Canary Islands.

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CIIM terrorists bombed a florist shop in Las Palmas Airport on 27 March 1977, seriously injuring 8 people. Members then threatened to explode a second bomb in the airport, forcing police to shut down air traffic while they searched for the bomb.A small bomb was  detonated in the Canary Islands Airport, Spain only injuring one person.

However because of this all flights flying in to the Las Palmas Airport.

KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736 had both been redirected to Tenerife.Both of the 747′ s a were charters. Pan Am had come from Los Angeles, after a stopover in New York,  And the KLM boeing from its home base in Amsterdam.

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The two aircrafts were then both on the third runway when the incident occurred. The two flights both taxied onto the runway, with the KLM plane told to hold their position with the Pan Am flight told to follow.

The incident then occurred after the KLM flight took off without proper clearance from the airport.

It wasn’t the only problem, as the Pan Am flight also missed the turning off the runway after mistaking the exit C4 for exit C3 in the foggy conditionsThe KLM flight started to take off despite the runway not being clear and was unable to see the Pan Am flight until the last minute.

A recording from the Pan Am flight heard the captain exclaimed: “G******, that son-of-a-b**** is coming!” with the first officer then yelling: “Get off! Get off! Get off!”.

Despite the Pan Am plane attempting to turn off the runway while the KLM flight pulled up, the two planes then collided on the ground.

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One of the 61 survivors of the Pan Am flight, John Coombs of Haleiwa, Hawaii, said that sitting in the nose of the plane probably saved his life: “We all settled back, and the next thing an explosion took place and the whole port side, left side of the plane, was just torn wide open.”

Both airplanes were destroyed in the collision. All 248 passengers and crew aboard the KLM plane died, as did 335 passengers and crew aboard the Pan Am plane,[36] primarily due to the fire and explosions resulting from the fuel spilled and ignited in the impact. The other 61 passengers and crew aboard the Pan Am aircraft survived, including the captain, first officer and flight engineer. Most of the survivors on the Pan Am walked out onto the intact left wing, the side away from the collision, through holes in the fuselage structure.

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Daniel Pearl-Killed for doing his job.

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I don’t get shocked easily but the murder of Daniel Pearl shocked me and had a profound effect on me, why I don’t know, meaning he was not the first one to die by Al-Qaeda terrorists and he wasn’t the last either. But it did touch me.

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002) was a journalist for The Wall Street Journal with American and Israeli citizenship. He was kidnapped by terrorists and later murdered in Pakistan.

The Pearls settled in Mumbai, India after Daniel Pearl was made Southeast Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. They traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, which he used as a base for reporting on the United States’ War on Terrorism following the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001 in the United States.

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On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani at the Village Restaurant in downtown Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped near the Metropole Hotel at 7:00 p.m. by a militant group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The group claimed Pearl was a spy and—using a Hotmail e-mail address—sent the United States a range of demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani terror detainees, and the release of a halted U.S. shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government.

The message read:

We give you one more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan.

Photos of Pearl handcuffed with a gun at his head and holding up a newspaper were attached. The group did not respond to public pleas for release of the journalist by his editor and his wife Mariane. United States and Pakistani intelligence forces tried to track down the kidnappers.

Nine days later, the terrorists killed Pearl by beheading. On May 16, his severed head and decomposed body were found cut into ten pieces, and buried, along with an identifying jacket, in a shallow grave at Gadap, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Karachi.When the police found Pearl’s remains, Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, arrived on the scene. He collected all ten body parts, and took them to the morgue. He helped ensure that Pearl’s remains were returned to the U.S. Pearl was interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

A lot of video and photographic footage of his murder or the moments prior to his murder, has been released over the years, but I will put any of that in this blog.

Suffice to note he died doing his job, he died a real Hero. Nowadays the buzzword tjat is used a lot is ‘Fake News’ but journalists like Daniel Pearl risks their lives every day to uncover the truth, while politicians only criticize them when the odd time they get it wrong. We should cherish and honour those like Daniel.

Dear sir I salute you.

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Munich Oktoberfest bombing 1980

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I don’t want to make this a political blog but I can’t avoid some politics without telling the factual story. Last weekend’s elections in Germany did see a rise of popularity of far right politics(and no matter what the leaders of AFD say, that is what they are).

Despite the fact the German economy is sound and unemployment is low, the AFD was able to tap into the fears of the German citizens, the fear for Islam. And yes there are valid grounds to fear Jihadi extremists. The truth of the matter  though no terror groups act out of  religion but out of political reasons and then use any excuse to validate this political act, be it religion,animal rights or otherwise.

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the biggest terror attack in Germany and this attack was not committed by Arabs or Muslims but by a German student, named ,Gundolf Köhler. Although he may have had accomplices.Gundolf_Köhler

It is beyond dispute that Gundolf Köhler, a university student from the Swabian town of Donaueschingen, made the bomb, took it to Munich and deposited it at the scene of the crime. But even today, 37 years later, his motives remain unclear.

Köhler was also killed in the attack, because the bomb went off too soon. Few people believe that he committed suicide, however. He was said to be technically adept and knowledgeable about explosives. But the student also had ties to Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, a banned neo-Nazi terrorist organization, and had taken part in their exercises a number of times.

At 10:19 p.m. on 26 September 1980, a bomb exploded at the main entrance to Oktoberfest, killing 13 people instantly (including Köhler) and injuring 225 people. Amongst the individuals killed were one Briton, one Swiss, and three German children, aged 6, 8, and 10; the remaining victims were West German adults.

Oktoberfest-Bomging

The bomb had been planted in a litter bin at about waist level, allowing it to wreak significant havoc upon detonation. Approximately 50 of the 225 “non fatal” casualties experienced serious, life-threatening injuries with the potential to impact the afflicted individuals for the rest of their lives. The area affected by the bombing was the size of a soccer field, which measures at 100 yards long (the same size as a football field) and 60 yards wide. Such demonstrates the devastating impact of this bomb and underscores why it was able to impact a large number of people. Furthermore, analysis of the bomb provides insight into why it was able to be particularly devastating. Reconstruction from the site of the bombing indicates that it was created from a British mortar projectile manufactured in 1954. This particular projectile was modified to ensure an intense degree of fragmentation, which would assist in causing as many fatalities (and severe injuries) as quickly as possible.

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The key eyewitness remains a dubious figure. Frank Lauterjung was able to provide more details about the attack than anyone else. He survived the explosion, even though he was only a few meters away, because he had had a “bad feeling” and thrown himself to the ground before the bomb detonated. Investigators questioned Lauterjung at least five times in 1980. He died of heart failure two years later, when he was only 38. But when he was questioned, the State Office of Criminal Investigation in Munich ignored his most explosive statement.

Lauterjung told investigators that he had noticed Köhler engaged in a heated conversation with two men in green parkas near the site of the bombing, about half an hour before the attack.

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An unnamed nurse told ARD that shortly after the Munich bombing she recalled treating a young man whose lower arm was missing.

“The arm had been injured by an explosion and had to be amputated,” the nurse told ARD. “But he wouldn’t say how he got hurt – he was proud of it. I went into his room and he was smiling all over.

She said he was never visited by his parents but only by “groups of men”, and added: “He disappeared after a week without even having his stitches removed.”

Ulrich Chaussy, the journalist behind the ARD documentary, has suspected irregularities in the Oktoberfest attack investigation for decades. He has long-believed that the severed hand, which was destroyed by federal prosecutors in 1987, did not belong to Köhler.The formal investigation into the bomb attack was stopped in 1982. Mr Chaussy’s investigations prompted the case to be reopened in December 2014.

 

Munich 1972

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In the early morning hours of September 5 1972, six members of the Arab terrorist group known as Black September dressed in the Olympic sweat suits of Arab nations and jumped the fence surrounding the Olympic village in Munich, Germany, carrying bags filled with guns. Although guards spotted them, they paid little attention because athletes often jumped the fence during the competition to return to their living quarters.

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After changing into disguises, the terrorists, toting machine guns, burst into the apartments of 21 Israeli athletes and officials. Yossef Gutfreund, a wrestling referee who valiantly tried to keep the terrorists out, saved Tuvia Sokolovsky, who was able to climb out a window and escape. In another apartment, Moshe Weinberg was shot 12 times but still managed to wound one of the terrorists and save the life of one of his teammates.

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Created in 1970 by a few survivors of the “ten terrible September days” of fighting against Jordan for a Palestinian homeland, Black September succeeded in taking nine hostages before demanding the release of 234 prisoners-most of whom were Arab terrorists. The demands were categorically refused, but it was eventually agreed that the terrorists and the hostages would be taken to the Furstenfeldbruck airport by helicopter and given a plane.

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The German government planned an ambush at the airport, stationing sharpshooters around the runway and officers in the airplane. However, the plan quickly disintegrated when the officers in the plane, worried about their lack of preparation, deserted. There weren’t nearly enough sharpshooters to effectively take down all of the terrorists either, partly because the Germans didn’t realize that two other terrorists had joined the Black September attack.

Still, the ambush was carried out. Three terrorists were taken out in the first wave of shots, but the others were able to hide out of range. One threw a grenade into a helicopter where five hostages were still tied up, instantly killing them all. Another terrorist fired his machine gun into another helicopter, killing the remaining hostages.

Twenty hours after Black September had begun their attack, a German police official, 5 Palestinian terrorists, and 11 Israeli athletes lay dead.

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Three of the terrorists who survived were imprisoned but were set free a month later when Arabs hijacked a Lufthansa 727 and demanded their release.

A few days after the tragic event at the Olympics, Israel retaliated with air strikes against Syria and Lebanon, killing 66 people and wounding dozens. In addition, Israel sent out assassination squads to hunt down members of Black September while Israeli troops broke through the Lebanese border, igniting the heaviest fighting since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Initially some newspapers had reported 9 athletes killed.

Sun Newspaper headline

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Of those believed to have planned the massacre, only Abu Daoud, the man who claims that the attack was his idea, is known to have died of natural causes. Historical documents released to Der Spiegel by the German secret service show willipohlthat Dortmund police had been aware of collaboration between Abu Daoud and neo-Nazi Willi Pohl (de) (aka E. W. Pless and, since 1979, officially named Willi Voss) seven weeks before the attack.

Young Girl- A Poem for Manchester

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Young Girl, the smile on your face when you got the ticket said it all.
Your first ever concert, you first late night out, OMG.
The anticipation of seeing your idol is driving you mad, the time goes so slow.
What outfit you are going to wear is your biggest concern.

Young Girl, the big day has come, you are so excited, today is the day!
You try to eat your breakfast but you can’t. So happy. LOL
On the playground at school you coordinate with your BFF on what accessories to wear.
In the car with your dad on the way to the arena. Dad has a proud face.

Young Girl, you nearly faint as you show your ticket to enter the venue.
The support act is good, but when will she appear. The one you look up to so much.
Then suddenly you recognize the voice and the song, you sing along.
Your heart is pounding in your throat, you never ever felt like this before. Bliss.

Young Girl , the concert is over you walk out, an explosion.
Young Girl. RIP.

The death of Bin Laden

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It is hard to believe that it has already been 8 years to the day since Obama Bin Laden was killed.

I can’t help but thinking what the Iranian born comedian Omid Djalili said about this.”We spent 10 years looking for Bin Laden. We scoured 27 countries looking for Bin Laden, we spent 2 Billions Dollars looking for bin laden . Where do we find him? In his house!”

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He was killed on May 2, 2011, by American military and C.I.A. operatives who tracked him to a compound in Pakistan.

President Obama announced the death in a televised address to the nation from Washington, where it was still late on the night of May 1. “Justice has been done,” he declared.

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The United States had been trying to kill or capture Bin Laden since it launched an invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001. The next month, he escaped from American and Afghan troops at an Afghan mountain redoubt called Tora Bora, near the border with Pakistan. For more than nine years afterward, he remained an elusive, shadowy figure frustratingly beyond the grasp of his pursuers and thought to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas and plotting new attacks.

When he was hunted down, Bin Laden was killed not in the wilderness but rather in the city of Abbottadad, about an hour’s drive drive north of the capital of Islamabad, raising anew questions about whether the Pakistani intelligence services had played a role in harboring him.

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The official mission code name was Operation Neptune Spear. Neptune’s spear is the trident, which appears on the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare insignia, with the three prongs of the trident representing the operational capacity of SEALs on sea, air and land.

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Behind the raid that killed Bin Laden lay years of intelligence work.  The turning point came in July 2010, when Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar and wrote down the car’s license plate.

The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in the wealthy hamlet 35 miles from Islamabad.

On a moonless night eight months later, 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound. Shots rang out. A helicopter stalled and would not take off. Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program.

In its initial account, the American government said that Bin Laden had been armed while taking part in the fierce firefight that broke out after a team of Navy Seals launched its assault. That was later revised to say that Bin Laden had been unarmed.

According to the later account, when the Seals reached the compound, they were immediately fired upon by Bin Laden’s trusted courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

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The SEALs encountered bin Laden on the third floor of the main building.Bin Laden was “wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a kurta paijama“, which were later found to have €500 and two phone numbers sewn into the fabric.

Bin Laden peered through his bedroom door at the Americans advancing up the stairs, and then retreated into the room as the lead SEAL fired a shot at him, which either missed or hit him in the side. Robert O’Neill, who later publicly identified himself as the SEAL who shot bin Laden,rolled through the door and confronted bin Laden inside the bedroom.

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Seymour Hersh reports that, according to his sources, bin Laden was found cowering and shot dead

The commandos killed him and a woman with him. When the Seals moved into the main house, they saw the courier’s brother, who they believed was preparing to fire a weapon. They shot and killed him. Then, as they made their way up the stairs of the house, officials said they killed Bin Laden’s son Khalid as he lunged toward the Seal team.

When the commandos reached the top floor, they entered a room and saw Osama bin Laden with an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in arm’s reach. They shot and killed him, as well as wounding a woman with him.

And just like that, history’s most expansive, expensive and exasperating manhunt was over. The inert frame of Bin Laden, America’s enemy No. 1, was placed in a helicopter for burial at sea, never to be seen or feared again.

According to U.S. officials, bin Laden was buried at sea because no country would accept his remains. Before disposing of the body, the U.S. called the Saudi government, who approved of burying the body in the ocean.Muslim religious rites were performed aboard Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea within 24 hours of bin Laden’s death.

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The claims that O’Neill killed bin Laden came on October 5, 2014, in anticipation of a Fox News special called The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden,which was expected to reveal his identity and details of the mission Operation Neptune Spear. He had previously been interviewed anonymously in an Esquire magazine article in February 2013.

O’Neill’s statements resulted in criticism by fellow Navy SEALs. Rear Admiral Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci issued a public statement,

A critical tenant of our ethos is “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions

 

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Oklahoma City bombing-April 19,1995

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On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring 500. (Timothy McVeigh was later convicted of federal murder charges and executed.)

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A cargo truck laden with more than two tons of explosives was detonated in front of Oklahoma City’s nine-story federal building on April 19, 1995 — an act of terrorism that at the time was the worst such attack ever committed on U.S. soil. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children, injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles in the downtown area.

This 19 April 1995 file photo shows the north side

Within days, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were arrested and accused of conspiring to destroy the federal building in retribution for the government’s handling of the siege of the Branch Davidian religious group at their compound in Waco, Texas, two years earlier. McVeigh and Nichols were tried and convicted on federal charges, and Nichols was convicted of murder following a separate trial in Oklahoma. McVeigh was sentenced to death and executed and Nichols received multiple life prison sentences.

Terry Lynn Nichols (born April 1, 1955) is an American convicted of being an accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing.

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Prior to his incarceration, he held a variety of short-term jobs, working as a farmer, grain elevator manager, real estate salesman and ranch hand.He met his future conspirator, Timothy McVeigh, during a brief stint in the U.S. Army, which ended in 1989 when he requested a hardship discharge after less than one year of service.In 1994 and 1995, he conspired with McVeigh in the planning and preparation of the Oklahoma City bombing – the truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

After a federal trial in 1997, Nichols was convicted of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for killing federal law enforcement personnel. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole because the jury deadlocked on the death penalty. He was also tried in Oklahoma on state charges of murder in connection with the bombing. He was convicted in 2004 of 161 counts of first degree murder, including one count of fetal homicide;first-degree arson; and conspiracy.As in the federal trial, the state jury deadlocked on imposing the death penalty. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,setting a Guinness World Record and is incarcerated at ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado.

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He shares a cell block that is commonly referred to as “Bombers Row” with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski.

Timothy James McVeigh was born in Lockport, New York, the only son and the second of three children of Mildred “Mickey” Noreen (née Hill) and William McVeigh.His Irish American parents divorced when he was ten years old, and he was raised by his father in Pendleton, New York.

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McVeigh claimed to have been a target of bullying at school, and he took refuge in a fantasy world where he imagined retaliating against the bullies. At the end of his life, he stated his belief that the United States government is the ultimate bully

He sought revenge against the federal government for its handling of the 1993 Waco siege, which ended in the deaths of 76 people exactly two years before the bombing,

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as well as for the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident. McVeigh hoped to inspire a revolt against the federal government.

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He was convicted of eleven federal offences and sentenced to death. His execution was carried out in a considerably shorter amount of time than average after his trial, as most convicts on death row in the United States spend an average of fifteen years awaiting execution. Four years after his conviction, McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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1993 World Trade Center bombing

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On February 26, 1993, terrorists parked a rental van in a garage underneath the World Trade Center’s twin towers and lit the fuses on a massive homemade bomb stuffed inside. Six people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the subsequent explosion, which carved out a crater several stories deep and propelled smoke into the upper reaches of the quarter-mile-high skyscrapers.

 

Completed in 1973, the World Trade Center’s twin towers loomed over lower Manhattan at 110 stories each. Although these iconic buildings, which were the tallest in the world before being overtaken by Chicago’s Sears Tower, struggled at first to attract tenants, some 50,000 office workers eventually filled them to near capacity. Tens of thousands of additional visitors came daily to check out the view from an observation deck or a 107th-floor restaurant.

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Safety concerns became apparent as early as 1975, when a disgruntled custodian set a fire in the north tower that caused millions of dollars in damages and prompted calls for the installation of a sprinkler system. A decade or so later, the government agency that owned the World Trade Center began examining possible terrorism threats. But it ended up ignoring many of its security team’s recommendations, including that public parking be eliminated or that cars at least be randomly inspected.

In September 1992 explosives expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef arrived in New York City on a flight from Pakistan and began planning an attack on the World Trade Center, with the alleged goal of toppling the north tower into the south tower.

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He received help from followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric who spoke in sermons of destroying the “edifices of capitalism.”

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The plotters rented a storage locker in New Jersey, where they stockpiled urea, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other ingredients for making bombs. They simultaneously concocted a nitroglycerin trigger at a nearby apartment and scouted out the World Trade Center’s underground floors.

On February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder dealership in New Jersey.

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Two of them then drove it across the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.

At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.” Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.

 

 

As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A class of singing kindergartners descended from the 107th floor. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom. Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopter. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.

Investigators sifting through the rubble soon came across the vehicle identification number for the rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before the attack. FBI agents then arrested Mohammad Salameh, who had rented the van under his own name, when he returned to the Ryder dealership to ask for his $400 deposit back.

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Subsequent arrests were made of Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad and Mahmoud Abouhalima. In March 1994 a federal jury convicted the four of them for their role in the bombing, and they were each sentenced to life behind bars.

Meanwhile, authorities uncovered a related plot in which followers of Sheikh Abdel Rahman planned to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks. In that case, the sheikh and nine co-defendants were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges. A third case led to life sentences for Yousef, who was captured in Pakistan in 1995, and the driver of the rental van, who was captured in Jordan that same year. Only one suspect, who fled to Iraq after being questioned and released by the FBI, remains at large.

In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, the buildings’ owner repaired the damage, upgraded elevators and electrical systems, put battery-operated emergency lights and luminescent paint in the stairwells, and set up emergency command centers. By 2000 the complex had reached its highest occupancy rate of all time. But terrorism struck again on September 11, 2001, when militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al Qaeda flew hijacked planes into the towers, killing nearly 3,000 people. More than 11 years later, reconstruction at the site, which includes a 9/11 memorial and the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, is nearing completion.

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