clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bomb? I thought van bore soap, driver says

The man accused of driving a rental van packed with explosives into the World Trade Center garage in 1993 believed he was ferrying boxes of soap, he later told the authorities.

It was only later that the driver, Eyad Ismoil, realized that he had carried in the bomb that killed six people in the Trade Center, he told Jordanian authorities after his arrest in Jordan in 1995.In a statement read to jurors this week in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Ismoil was quoted as saying that another member of the bomb plot later said to him, "We did not tell you so that you would be calm, so that you would act naturally and you wouldn't become nervous."

For about two months, prosecutors have been presenting evidence against Ismoil and his co-defendant, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, for what the government says were their critical roles in the plot. Prosecutors have accused Yousef of masterminding the bombing.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the jury began receiving new details on how Yousef is believed to have enlisted Ismoil, a former cabdriver, into the plot.

One prosecutor, Lev Dassin, had earlier told jurors that Yousef "reached out" for Ismoil because he was "someone who had driven" New York's streets.

On Tuesday, an assistant U.S. attorney, David Kelley, read to the jury parts of Ismoil's statement to Jordanian authorities.

"One night, my telephone rang," Ismoil was quoted in the statement as saying. "I answered and heard someone saying, is Iyad available?" (Iyad is an alternative spelling of Ismoil's first name.)

"I said, `Yes, I am Iyad.' He said, `Don't you know me?' I said, `No.' He said, `Try to go back in your memory, years back,' "

Although prosecutors did not identify the caller, it was clear from earlier statements by government lawyers that they would contend that the caller was Yousef.

In the statement, Ismoil said the caller told him that he ran a soap and shampoo business and needed help making a delivery of what Ismoil said later turned out to be sealed cartons.