Andrew C. McCarthy is senior trial counsel at the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, and an adjunct associate professor of law at Fordham University and New York Law School. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This article derives from a talk the author delivered on receiving the Middle East Forum's Fifth Albert J. Wood Public Affairs Award in recognition of "courage and success in prosecuting the largest terrorism trial in the nation's history."
Terrorism in the United States undertaken by fundamentalist Muslims reveals that an active jihad [sacred war] organization, modeled after counterparts overseas, has become a dangerous domestic threat. To combat this threat successfully, Americans need to face it not just with strength and resolve but also with a proper understanding of their constitutional liberties: that beliefs may be freely held or articulated does not mean they are beyond public scrutiny or that they can immunize criminal behavior undertaken in their name.
Tens of thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center complex in downtown New York City, the site of the heaviest concentration of human and business capital in the world's largest financial center, were going about their usual activities on February 26, 1993, at 12:18 p.m. At that moment, a crudely manufactured, high-explosive bomb ripped through the underground parking garage of the complex, resulting in nearly $1 billion in damage, a thousand people injured, and, most tragically, six Americans -- including a young woman in the last stages of pregnancy -- dead. Despite these losses, Americans were lucky this time. The explosion was intended to cause much greater damage by bringing down the twin towers. Had the physics of the explosive force reacted differently with the structure of the skyscraper, it could have done so. The bombers had hoped to strike a crippling blow against the economy of the United States. This was not, it should be noted, a request for further consultations, nor the beginning of a negotiating process. Rather, it amounted to a declaration of a war to be waged by the most violent means available -- the willing slaughter of innocent civilians.
Nor was the World Trade Center episode the sole planned act of violence. Shortly after the bombing, the conspirators sent a letter to The New York Times in which they proclaimed themselves an army and promised more bloodshed if the United States did not disengage from the Middle East and promptly cease all economic, military, and political support of Israel. Consistent with this threat, other members of the same U.S.-based jihad organization planned to assault Americans again in June 1993 -- only this time, on a far greater scale. The goal of their planned "day of terror" was the indiscriminate murder of thousands of mostly civilian Americans by simultaneously bombing the United Nations complex and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels (through which hundreds of thousands of commuters travel each day between New Jersey and New York City). Future plans by the group included attacks on the FBI's headquarters in New York City, various U.S. military installations, political and judicial officials, and foreign heads of state. Thanks to vigilant law enforcement, and especially its infiltration of the terrorist organization by an undercover operative, all these plans were foiled.
Fundamentalist Islam and Jihad
The bombing of the World Trade Center and the "day of terror" plot snapped Americans to attention through their unambiguous message: the United States has real enemies, and they live in our midst. Further, those enemies include Islamic extremists.
Here I must clarify what I mean. Obviously, I do not equate the religion of Islam and its billion or so adherents worldwide with acts of terrorism executed by some radicals acting in the name of what they call Islam. Islam, an honorable religion with many admirable qualities, fully deserves all the religious liberty America affords. In contrast, fundamentalist Islam is not a religion but, as Daniel Pipes puts it, "a radical utopian movement." It rejects the secularist wall Americans interpose between church and state, and it unabashedly repudiates the democratic premise of American political life -- that authority to rule comes from the governed -- holding instead that government must follow divine pronouncements. Most of all, fundamentalist Islam hates: it hates Jews, Christians, the nonfundamentalist governments of Muslim countries, and the United States -- just about everyone who is not a fellow fundamentalist.
Fundamentalist Muslims have sent their message to Americans already for some years. The revolutionary Iranian government held Americans hostage in 1979-1981, violating every convention of sanctity traditionally accorded a foreign state's emissaries. The 1980s saw the slaughter of over two hundred American Marines at their barracks in Beirut, the bombing of the American embassy in Kuwait, the killing of American passengers on several airliners, and the seizure of American hostages in Lebanon. Those episodes have been driven in no small measure by the fundamentalists' construction of jihad -- a positive obligation Islam imposes on all Muslims. As Bernard Lewis explains:
Conventionally translated "holy war," [jihad] has the literal meaning of striving, more specifically, in the Qur'anic phrase "striving in the path of God" (fi sabil Allah). Some Muslim theologians, particularly in more modern times, have interpreted the duty of "striving in the path of God" in a spiritual and moral sense. The overwhelming majority of early authorities, however, citing relevant passages in the Qur'an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.
Unable completely to bleach out its militaristic component, some apologists endeavor to render jihad more congenial to contemporary sensibilities by limning it as a purely defensive mission. Such revisionism is burdened by two problems. First, what proponents rationalize as justifications for "defensive" war (for example, any opposition or resistance to the mission of Islam) do not square with common sense or international law. Secondly, the defensive interpretation is at odds with both history and core aspirations of Islam. In truth, jihad -- a bedrock tenet of Islamic doctrine and the animating principle of fundamentalism -- is the instantiation of Islam's universalistic demand for political hegemony: all the world must adopt the Muslim religion or submit to the authority of Muslim rule. While Islam forbids forcible conversion, it aims, through jihad, to remove all barriers to conversion, including those governments that do not subscribe to the Shari`a (Islamic sacred law). Thus is jihad the fillip for a radical, fundamentalist Islam.
Ideas. For about a quarter century, a blind Egyptian sheikh, `Umar `Abd ar-Rahman (also known as Omar Abdel Rahman), has been a leader of an international radical Islamic movement. Jihad is his passion; he calls on his followers to accept it as every Muslim's obligation to engage in armed, violent struggle against the enemies of Islam. "Jihad means do jihad with the sword, with the cannon, with the grenades, and with the missile. This is jihad. Jihad against God's enemies for God's cause and His word." The author of an indignant and often logorrheic tome on jihad titled A Word of Truth, `Abd ar-Rahman deems a perversion the modern revisionist efforts to cast that Islamic obligation as a peaceful striving for spiritual betterment.
Nor does `Abd ar-Rahman shy from the label "terrorist":
Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of Allah, then we are terrorists. We . . . have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah. The Qur'an [calls on us] "to strike terror," therefore we don't fear to be described as "terrorists." . . . Let them say what they wish to say. They may say, "he is a terrorist," "he uses violence," "he uses force." Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam. `Abd ar-Rahman schooled his followers that the United States is the primary enemy of Islam, the one responsible for the unhappy condition of the Muslim world: "Every conspiracy against Islam, every scheming against Islam and the Muslims -- its source is America." America is the power behind Israel, behind Egypt's President Husni Mubarak, and behind Muslims' having to live in (as he portrays it) a state of humiliation and surrender.
Of course, `Abd ar-Rahman's views are seen as abhorrent by the vast majority of Muslims. Yet, as Lewis notes, divergences among Muslims in the interpretation of Islam are not easily labelled "heterodox" or "heretical," for such notions are Christian ones that have "little or no relevance to the history of Islam, which has no synods, churches, or councils to define orthodoxy, and therefore none to define and condemn departures from orthodoxy." The absence of such intermediate institutions, which in other religions perform the valuable function of authoritatively condemning radical interpretations and behavior -- such as `Abd ar-Rahman's construction of jihad -- makes it difficult to rein in behavior sprung from a tenet run amok.
Strategy. Paradoxically, Sheikh `Abd ar-Rahman also sees America as lacking in character and will, and therefore as weak. Thus, he assured his acolytes that five or six small operations against the American military, such as the bombing of the Marine barracks in 1983, would drive the United States from the Middle East. The few and ill-equipped fundamentalists have no hope of overwhelming the American forces; rather, `Abd ar-Rahman believes they will defeat the Americans through superior will. He urges a battle of attrition. By fomenting enough fear over time, fundamentalist Muslims ensure that Americans will find a policy of appeasement irresistibly more seductive than one of constant vigilance. `Abd ar-Rahman expects that a combination of Muslim conviction and Western weakness will bring Islam its ultimate triumph. He counsels patience; operatives should lie in wait for opportune moments.
`Abd ar-Rahman assured his acolytes that five or six small operations against the American army would drive the United States from the Middle East.
Jihad in America
Before coming to the United States in 1990, `Abd ar-Rahman led Egypt's most militant opposition organization, the "Islamic Group" (al-Jama`a al-Islamiya). Its members helped forge the conspiracy to murder Egypt's President Anwar as-Sadat in October 1981. Although an Egyptian court cleared `Abd ar-Rahman personally of participation in that murder, he later claimed credit for it; in tape-recorded statements to his followers (presented to the jury during his 1995 Federal trial). He boasted that the Islamic Group "carried out many jihad operations against those tyrants. The most famous and the most successful operation was fighting the atheist, the oppressor and the profligate by killing him -- Anwar as-Sadat, that is; and now, it is hoping for another operation, God willing." Thus, `Abd ar-Rahman asserted his hope for a repeat by planning to assassinate Sadat's successor, Mubarak. He also described his authority to issue fatwas (Islamic edicts) against the likes of Sadat and Rabbi Meir Kahane as an "honor and something to be proud of. We ask God to make us worthy of it, that we be worthy to issue a fatwa to kill tyrants, oppressors and infidels."
`Abd ar-Rahman clearly has a great capacity to inspire young and impoverished Muslim men, who thrill to his panegyrics of mujahid martyrs and to his portrait of an afterlife promising riches denied them by the "enemies of Islam." Throughout the late 1980s (even before he arrived in this country) and early 1990s, militants reporting directly to `Abd ar-Rahman (by telephone or in person) conducted paramilitary training exercises in rural areas outlying New York City and Philadelphia.
Among these early paladins was El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian national who lived in New Jersey and worked as an electrician for the State of New York. Nosair recorded some of his telephone conversations with `Abd ar-Rahman, including a May 1990 discussion in which the two commiserated about the growing influx of Jews emigrating to Israel and the difficulties that portended for destroying the Jewish state. On November 5, 1990, at a Marriott Hotel in New York City, Nosair attended a speech by Rabbi Meir Kahane, a staunch promoter of emigration to Israel and founder of the extremist Jewish Defense League. Nosair shot Kahane at the conclusion of the speech, killing him, then wounded two others (a seventy-year-old man and a U.S. postal police officer) who impeded his attempted flight. Investigators uncovered a wealth of evidence in Nosair's home and work locker that indicated the existence of a nascent jihad army. Notes kept by Nosair called for attacks on the "enemies of Islam" by "destroying the structure of their civilized pillars such as the touristic infrastructure . . . and their high world buildings which they are proud of and their statues . . . and the buildings in which their leaders gather."
Nosair was incarcerated in Attica State Prison in January 1992 and even there continued jihad activities, planning a bombing spree that, as he told a government informant, required `Abd ar-Rahman's approval. He also met with Mahmud Abu Halima, an intimate of his and `Abd ar-Rahman's and a leader of the paramilitary training who (testimony at the later Federal trial showed) was complicit in the Kahane plot. Abu Halima helped construct the World Trade Center bomb, aided by, among others, Muhammad Salama and Nidal `Ayyad, two other Nosair cronies whom the FBI had photographed at the 1989 paramilitary training. In the weeks leading up to the explosion, Salama (then living with Ramzi Yusuf, one of the technical brains behind the bombing plot) and Abu Halima made trips of sixteen to twenty hours to call on Nosair in prison. Also at that same critical time, telephone records link Salama, Yusuf, Abu Halima, and Nosair's cousin and lieutenant Ibrahim El-Gabrowny to `Abd ar-Rahman, as well as to each other.
On January 16, 1993, `Abd ar-Rahman gave a speech in Brooklyn forecasting the carnage that was soon to follow. America, he railed, is the foremost enemy of Islam, and "we must be terrorists and we must terrorize the enemies of Islam and frighten them and disturb them and shake the earth under their feet." Just over a month later, `Abd ar-Rahman's jihad organization bombed the World Trade Center.
In early March 1993, a few weeks after the bombing, Abu Halima was arrested in Egypt, arousing suspicions among `Abd ar-Rahman and his followers: clearly, their group had been penetrated by a government informant. In the days and weeks after the explosion, `Abd ar-Rahman busied himself, sometimes on tape, with trying to determine the identity of the informant. Yet, at that same critical time, `Abd ar-Rahman made a number of media appearances, including some broadcast on national television, in which he staunchly denied knowing both Nosair (whom he had known for years and with whom he had discussed paramilitary training on tape in 1990) and Abu Halima -- the confidant who had helped him settle in America in 1990, had been his chauffeur, had shared a bank account with him, and for whose traitor he was covertly searching.
`Abd ar-Rahman speculated that the informant who had betrayed Abu Halima was Siddiq Ibrahim Siddiq `Ali, a Sudanese national on whom Abu Halima had relied on for assistance in reckoning explosives prior to the Trade Center bombing. In fact, Abu Halima had been compromised by another `Abd ar-Rahman associate, `Abdu Muhammad Hajjaj, who had informed Egyptian authorities that Abu Halima was in Cairo (having fled there after the bombing). Indeed, in the weeks after Abu Halima's arrest, Siddiq `Ali, acting on `Abd ar-Rahman's standing orders, had plotted to murder President Mubarak during a scheduled visit to New York in late March 1993 -- a plot that was foiled precisely because Siddiq `Ali recruited his ersatz friend Hajjaj, who promptly passed along that information too to the Egyptian government.
Ultimately, `Abd ar-Rahman was satisfied with Siddiq `Ali's credentials and sanctioned his plans for a "day of terror." Flanked by Siddiq `Ali as his translator, `Abd ar-Rahman in June 1993 publicly warned Americans that they would be made to pay a terrible price for supporting Mubarak. Days later, Siddiq `Ali and his mostly Sudanese recruits were arrested in flagrante delicto manufacturing bombs to be deployed at New York City landmarks. `Abd ar-Rahman was arrested on immigration charges in late June and, in late August, was indicted with Nosair, El-Gabrowny, Siddiq `Ali, and several others for, inter alia, conspiring to conduct a war of urban terrorism against the United States, in violation of the seditious conspiracy law.
Three trials then took place. The first took seven months and ended with the convictions of four men -- Abu Halima, Salama, Nidal `Ayyad and Ahmad Ajjaj -- in March 1994 of bombing the World Trade Center and related charges, for which each received a 240-year sentence. The second took most of 1995 and ended with `Abd ar-Rahman and others convicted for the planned "day of terror." The third lasted several months in 1996; Ramzi Yusuf, the fugitive who was arrested in Pakistan in February 1995, was convicted (with two others) on charges arising out of a plot to bomb U.S. commercial airliners. As of this writing, Yusuf awaits sentencing on that conviction, as well as trial for his role in the World Trade Center bombing.
Prosecuting the Sheikh
My prosecution team handled the trial against `Abd ar-Rahman and his eleven codefendants. We brought familiar Federal charges against them (under the general conspiracy, bombing, and anti-racketeering statutes) to meet specific acts of brutality: the planned bombing spree against New York City landmarks, the World Trade Center bombing, the murder of Meir Kahane, the conspiracy to murder Husni Mubarak, and the rest of this breathtakingly ambitious blueprint of terror. What made the prosecution unique, however, was our stratagem to focus on the jihad organization behind the individuals carrying out this program: all the defendants were charged under the seditious conspiracy statute, which criminalizes agreements to wage war against the United States and to oppose government authority by force.
Though firmly established in the law, this statute is a product of the post-Civil War era and is rarely used. Its use here generated near hysteria from some academics, who pilloried the case as an ominous anachronism brought by reactionaries bent on imperilling the freedom to express political dissent. Such fears, however, were ill-conceived. Seditious conspiracy prosecutions are unusual, and no doubt will continue to be so, for the simple reason that it remains fortunately rare that a group conspires to make war on the United States. Nevertheless, when strong evidence of such a conspiracy exists, the mere happenstance that such cases are rare must not prevent them from being brought.
The concern over the prosecution's portents for religious and political freedoms also betrayed arrant misapprehension about the facts of the case. `Abd ar-Rahman, although a religious leader, conducted himself in many ways like a common criminal. Much like an everyday drug kingpin, he tried to ferret out informants and engaged in John Gotti-esque braggadocio about his authority to issue death warrants for the likes of Sadat and Kahane. He issued precisely the types of naked criminal commands (to murder Mubarak) and tactical advice (that it would be better to bomb the U.S. army than the United Nations) that are common fodder for prosecuting organized crime leaders.
Much like an everyday drug kingpin, `Abd ar-Rahman tried to ferret out informants and engaged in John Gotti-esque braggadocio about his authority to issue death warrants.
So why all the fuss in his case? Because the sheikh cleverly employed two of the strait-jacketing taboos of our day, religion and politics, often (but by no means always) swaddling his directives in allusions to the Qur`an and polemics against the American and Egyptian governments. Thus, although his rhetoric and behavior were plainly criminal, and often racist and crass, he derived cover from our modern obsession with political correctness, which causes the mere utterance of things religious and political to supplant rationality with catalepsy.
Neither our veneration of robust political dissent nor the nimbus of religion need dull the edge of reason. Those who violate the law are nearly always motivated by something, whether religious principle, greed, the lust for power, or some other drive. Although those forces naturally become part of the trial evidence (since it is the government's burden to prove that the defendant intended to commit the crimes charged), our prosecutions target the crimes, not their impetus. Obviously, government cannot refrain from its mission to secure the governed merely because some will say its enforcement machinery is moved by animus against the criminal's motivation (for example, that he happens to be a fundamentalist Muslim) rather than his violations of law (the bombings he committed).
Moreover, in the public debate about religious liberty, reverence does not preclude realism. It is no disrespect to Islam to express forthright concern about principles such as jihad (which certainly causes plenty of discord among Muslims themselves) or the lack of church-state demarcation and how they will assimilate in modern America. Healthy debate does not condemn or demonize a religious tradition; it fosters accommodations based on reason rather than demagoguery. Realism is an even more paramount requirement when we move from public debate to matters of public security. Government cannot abdicate its responsibility to prevent crimes whenever brutality is camouflaged in the argot of religious tenets. Fair and effective law enforcement requires clarity about what is and is not licit behavior: what merits sanctity from government intrusion (a believer's acceptance of doctrine) and what does not (brutality committed under the cloak of doctrine).
It is no disrespect to Islam to express forthright concern how principles such as jihad or the lack of church-state demarcation will assimilate in modern America.
As is the case with all faiths, our constitutional principles pay due deference to Islam, but they neither inoculate its elements from scrutiny nor shield those who commit terrorism while waiving its banner. America's commitment to religious and intellectual freedom ensures that government may not impede a believer from accepting jihad (or, for that matter, any other idea), but it provides no seal of approval. Nor can it sensibly deter the commonsense observation that ideas, while free, are often pernicious -- and the wider the berth given a pernicious notion, the more easily it evolves into dangerous, often criminal behavior.
Moreover, all speech does not have equivalent constitutional value, and there simply is no constitutional right to champion violence. Whether pregnant with religious overtones or not, neither words intended to incite violence nor speech that is the "very vehicle of crime itself" have ever warranted First Amendment protection. Further, the core ideal of the First Amendment is the content of thought; the mode by which thought is expressed has never been beyond regulation. Beliefs, worthy or despicable, may not be conveyed through brutality.
Until now, notwithstanding the atrocities at the World Trade Center and the Federal building in Oklahoma City, terrorists in the United States for the most part have been stopped before committing their crimes. Law enforcement has demonstrated strength and constancy of purpose in identifying and prosecuting radicals committed to violence. But these preventive measures will be inadequate to ensure domestic tranquility unless the rest of the country comes to grips with the threats and their remedies. The operation on these shores of an active terrorist organization presents a stern test for the American people and their government. It calls on their intellectual capacity to recognize what is happening in their midst and makes grave demands on their character. In this context, five points bear noting.
Investigators must have the tools to combat terrorism. That means not only adopting untested measures like tagents in explosive materials (a recent Justice Department initiative) but also relying on conventional techniques, such as infiltrating suspected organizations with undercover operatives. Unfortunately, this investigative tool is the target of frequent attack. The informant who was used to great advantage against Sheikh `Abd ar-Rahman's jihad organization, `Imad Salim, was vilified by a relentless publicity campaign choreographed under the banner of civil liberties (abetted by an often breathtakingly uncritical media).
To authentic civil libertarians, terrorism's penchant to undermine societal order is the true threat. As Edmund Burke long ago observed, liberty is that which "not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them."
All ideas are legal, but not all actions. The government has no business invading the sanctum of a believer's private thoughts; a person is always free to hate America, and to criticize its record in the harshest terms. But Americans cannot retreat into tongue-tied appeasement as soon as a terrorist throws the cloak of religion over his naked aggression. A proud tradition of religious and intellectual freedom cannot be turned against the United States and used as a weapon to destroy its resolve in the face of unambiguous acts of war -- acts undertaken by enemies who, had they the opportunity, would remove those very same freedoms.
Americans cannot retreat into tongue-tied appeasement as soon as a terrorist throws the cloak of religion over his naked aggression.
Appeasement does not work. Fundamentalist Muslims hate the United States and deem themselves at war with it. Worse, theirs is a permanent hostility, one that cannot be altered by clever diplomacy or rhetorical flourishes. They despise Americans for who they are and what they believe. They reject basic American principles -- that the authority to rule comes from the people, who freely may choose their ideals and beliefs. This being the case, the terrorists' enmity cannot be reversed without changing the basic character of what the United States is, without destroying all that is worth preserving.
Words may not deter but actions do. Terrorists need to feel American determination to pursue, punish, and contain them, so that their efforts never bear fruit and their brutality brings with it a cost they cannot pay. I believe their resolve will bend in the face of strength.
Americans need to be consistent in the international arena. A law-enforcement agency that would allow a criminal to improve his plea offer through the threat of extortion would sow chaos and likely forfeit its future ability to enforce the law. No less, a state that rewards rogue regimes with a place at the negotiating table guarantees that the law of the jungle, not the law of civilized society, will prevail. The government that negotiates with terrorist states encourages every terrorist that his methods work.
International peace, like domestic tranquility, is a product of strength and the common knowledge that force will be met with superior force. This real peace is much to be preferred to "peace processes" that indulge the fantasy of slowly reasoning with terrorists while the toll of civilian death grows ever larger.
No one is free to send out a call to arms against the United States without consequence. When the caller demonstrates the wherewithal to make good on his threats, a great country need not wait to be ambushed before acting. The terrorist knows only two responses: strength and constancy; or weakness and appeasement. Americans must make the correct choice.
Chronology of Events
October 6: Assassination of Egypt's President Anwar as-Sadat.
Summer: El Sayyid Nosair, Mahmud Abu Halima, Muhammad Salama, Nidal `Ayyad, and others observed by FBI in paramilitary training.
Spring: Abu Halima and Nosair in New Jersey recorded reporting to Sheikh `Umar `Abd ar-Rahman in Egypt about paramilitary training.
Autumn: `Abd ar-Rahman arrives to live in the United States.
November 5: Nosair kills Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York and wounds two others while trying to escape.
December 21: Nosair acquitted of murder and attempted murder but convicted of firearms charges in New York State Court.
January: Nosair incarcerated at Attica State Prison.
Spring: Nosair, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, and others discuss bombing with government informant `Imad Salim. Nosair says `Abd ar-Rahman's approval is required.
September 1: Ramzi Yusuf and Ahmad Ajjaj arrive in the United States. Ajjaj is arrested in possession of bombing manuals; Yusuf is released and takes up residence with Salama.
September 6: El-Gabrowny visits Nosair at Attica.
September 1992 to February 1993: Continuous telephone traffic among `Abd ar-Rahman, El-Gabrowny, Salama, Yusuf, Abu Halima, and `Ayyad. Salama and Yusuf purchase chemicals and store them in New Jersey. Abu Halima seeks Siddiq Ibrahim Siddiq `Ali's help with explosives.
January 2 and 14: Abu Halima visits Nosair at Attica.
February 13: Salama visits Nosair at Attica.
February 23: Salama rents a Ford Econoline van.
February 26: Bombing of the World Trade Center complex in New York. The bomb detonates from within Salama's van, parked in the underground garage. Yusuf flees the United States.
March 1: Abu Halima, assisted by Siddiq `Ali, flees the United States en route to Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.
March 2: The New York Times receives a letter threatening more violence if the United States does not disengage from the Middle East and cease aid to Israel.
Early March: Salama, El-Gabrowny, and `Ayyad arrested.
March: Abu Halima visits Egypt, is arrested, and returned to the United States. Siddiq `Ali plots to murder Husni Mubarak in New York; Egyptian intelligence learns of the plans and Mubarak cancels the trip.
Spring: Siddiq `Ali and others plan "day of terror" bombings in June against the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the FBI's New York headquarters.
May 21: Siddiq `Ali and government informant Salim visit Nosair at Attica.
May 23: `Abd ar-Rahman tells Salim that bombing the United Nations is not forbidden but suggests a bombing of an American army base instead.
June 17: `Abd ar-Rahman, using Siddiq `Ali as a translator, warns Americans that they will pay a terrible price for supporting Mubarak.
June 24: Siddiq `Ali and others arrested while making bombs to be deployed against New York City landmarks in a "day of terror."
Late June: `Abd ar-Rahman detained on immigration charges.
August: `Abd ar-Rahman, Nosair, El-Gabrowny, Siddiq `Ali, and eight others indicted on charges including seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy, conspiracy to murder Mubarak, and murdering Meir Kahane.
September: First trial begins against Abu Halima, Salama, `Ayyad, and Ajjaj on bombing the World Trade Center and related charges.
March: Abu Halima, Salama, `Ayyad, and Ajjaj convicted; each receives a 240-year sentence.
January: Second trial begins against `Abd ar-Rahman, Nosair, El-Gabrowny, Siddiq `Ali, and several others, for planning the "day of terror."
February: Siddiq `Ali pleads guilty to all charges. Yusuf arrested in Pakistan.
October: `Abd ar-Rahman, Nosair, El-Gabrowny, and others convicted. Sentences range from 25 years for one defendant to 85 years for El-Gabrowny and life imprisonment for Nosair and `Abd ar-Rahman. 1996
April: Third trial begins against Yusuf (and two others) for plotting to bomb U.S. commercial airliners. September: Yusuf and his codefendants convicted.