26 February 1993: World Trade Center bombing

On this day in 1993, Kuwaiti-born terrorist Ramzi Yousef carried out his planned attack on the World Trade Center in New York, killing six people.

The World Trade Center formally opened in April 1973, and quickly became one of New York's most important commercial and cultural areas. The complex accounted for 1.25 million square metres of office space across seven buildings (the last was finished in 1985). The North and South Towers (the Twin Towers) formed the core of the "superblock" and rapidly became a key part of the Big Apple's skyline, and a tourist attraction in their own right.

The symbol of American prosperity also became a target for Kuwaiti-born terrorist Ramzi Yousef (AKA Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim). Yousef, who studied engineering at Swansea University, went to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in the late 1980s. He entered America on 1 September 1992 and met with several fellow terrorists to plan an atrocity they hoped would convince America to abandon its support for Israel.

On 26 February they filled a van with explosive materials, including fertiliser and a gas cylinder, and detonated it in a garage directly beneath the North Tower (using a fuse to delay the detonation long enough to allow them to escape). They hoped the North Tower would collapse, bringing down its twin.

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The explosion destroyed five floors and released smoke throughout the building. Experts believe the explosion would have toppled the towers had the van been close to the foundations. In the event, there were six deaths and 1,042 people injured. Yousef was caught in 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment. His uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, organised the 11 September 2001 attacks that destroyed the towers, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri