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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

February 27, 2008

World Trade Center Terrorist Bombing Investigation 15th Anniversary - February 26, 1993

On February 26, 1993, at approximately 12:18 p.m., an explosion rocked the World Trade Center complex in New York City.

ATF special agents from the nearby New York Field Division office immediately responded to the scene, along with other federal, state and local investigators.

At approximately 3:30 p.m., a temporary command post was established in the World Financial Center by ATF, the FBI and New York City Police Department, all working together to develop a coordinated response. ATF’s Northeast National Response Team, or NRT, was activated. The ATF Mobile Communications Center was summoned to serve as an on site command vehicle.

Twenty-five New York Field Division special agents worked with the FBI and NYPD, providing logistical support and conducting preliminary examination of the blast site until the NRT arrived on February 27. The NRT consisted of 13 special agents, two explosives enforcement officers, and three forensic chemists.

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ATF Special Agents working inside the blast scene.

On February 28, the NRT members along with ATF New York Field Division agents, the FBI, and officers from the NYPD conducted a preliminary site evaluation and developed a strategy for examining the massive five level blast scene. The explosion occurred on the B2 parking level below the Vista Hotel and the World Trade Center. The explosion caused massive damage two levels above and below the blast seat.

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EEO Joseph Hanlin rappelling into the blast crater.

Preliminary examination of swabbings indicated the presence of nitrates, a chemical found in certain explosives. ATF explosives enforcement officer Joseph Hanlin and an NYPD Bomb Squad member went down into the blast seat and located the undercarriage of the vehicle used to transport the bomb. The vehicle’s identification number was discovered after further examination by ATF special agents, explosives enforcement officers and forensic chemists.

On March 1, ATF NRT members commenced the formal blast scene examination, along with NYPD and FBI representatives.

The key to solving this terrorist bombing was the discovery of the VIN. Now it was the work of the investigative team to follow up on this lead. Subsequent investigation by the investigative team revealed the vehicle was owned by a rental company in Jersey City, New Jersey. On March 4, Mohammad Salameh, who rented the vehicle, was arrested by ATF, FBI and NYPD officers. On March 5, ATF’s Southeast NRT was activitated to assist in the investigation of the blast scene. Three additional suspects were arrested. All four were convicted in federal court and sentenced to life.

This first terrorist attack on American soil was solved through the combined investigative efforts of the ATF, the FBI, NYPD and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, working together as a team.

More information on ATF and its programs can be found at

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NRT members examining and processing potential evidence recovered at the scene of the World Trade Center bombing.