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This Day In History

World Trade Center is bombed

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A bomb explodes in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York City on this day in 1993. Six people died and 1,000 were injured by the powerful blast, which also caused the evacuation of thousands of people from the Twin Towers.An informant later identified a group of Serbians in New York as the culprits. However, when the FBI conducted surveillance of the gang they found not terrorists but jewel thieves, putting an end to a major diamond-laundering operation.

Fortunately, investigators at the bomb scene found a section of a van frame that had been at the center of the blast. The van’s vehicle identification number was still visible, leading detectives to the Ryder Rental Agency in Jersey City, New Jersey. Their records indicated that Mohammed Salameh had rented the van and reported it stolen on February 25.

Salameh was already in the FBI’s database as a potential terrorist, so agents knew that they had probably found their man. Salameh compounded his mistake by insisting that Ryder return his $400 deposit. When he returned to collect it, the FBI arrested him. A search of his home and records led to two other suspects.

Meanwhile, the owner of a storage facility in Jersey City came forward to say that he had seen four men loading a Ryder van on February 25. When this storage space was checked, they found enough chemicals, including very unstable nitroglycerin, to make another massive bomb. Investigators also found videotapes with instructions on bomb making that led to the arrest of a fourth suspect.

Other evidence showed that one of the terrorists had bought hydrogen tanks from AGL Welding Supply in New Jersey. In the wreckage under the World Trade Center, three tanks marked “AGL Welding” were found. In addition, the terrorists had sent a letter to the New York Times claiming responsibility for the blast. Portions of this letter were found on a computer desk taken from a suspect’s office. Finally, DNA analysis of saliva on the envelope matched that of the suspect.

The wealth of evidence resulted in easy convictions, and each of the men was sentenced to 240 years in prison.

On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center was again attacked, when terrorists linked to Osama bin Ladin and al-Qaida hijacked and flew one jetliner into each tower. Within hours, both towers had collapsed, killing almost 3,000 people. A third jet was crashed into the Pentagon, killing almost two hundred people, including those on board the plane. A fourth hijacked jet, apparently bound for a second target in Washington, D.C., crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers–aware of the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon–attempted to wrest control of the plane from the hijackers. All aboard were killed.

– History.com Staff

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This Day In History

Truman announces development of H-bomb

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U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announces his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31.

On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.

Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.

Source: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/truman-announces-development-of-h-bomb

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This Day In History

Gandhi assassinated

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist.

Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in 1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year contract in South Africa.

Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. He reorganized the Indian National Congress as a political force and launched a massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. Then, in 1922, he abruptly called off the satyagraha when violence erupted. One month later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty, and imprisoned.

Source: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhi-assassinated

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U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects first members

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On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects its first members in Cooperstown, New York: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson.

The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway.

In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939—thought by many to be the centennial of baseball—the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound.

Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball. 

Source: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-baseball-hall-of-fame-elects-first-members

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