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Officials Will Replicate Trade Center Blast

September 05, 1993|PATRICIA COHEN | NEWSDAY

NEW YORK — Explosives experts from the U.S. military and the FBI are planning to replicate the shattering blast that rocked the World Trade Center.

The "large-scale test explosion," which could take place just days before jury selection begins in the trial of four men arrested for the Feb. 26 bombing, will be videotaped by federal prosecutors who may try to present the re-enactment as evidence.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with other law enforcement and military agencies, is planning to conduct a large-scale test explosion using chemicals similar to those used in the World Trade Center bombing," reads a letter dated Friday and sent to defense attorneys by the U.S. attorney's office.

"We plan to go forward with the test as expeditiously as possible" the letter continues.

Citing national-security concerns relating to the test site, prosecutors told defense lawyers that they would not be permitted to attend the explosion, but would be sent a copy of the videotape along with results from the test.

A defense attorney for suspect Ahmed Ajaj said he would object to any attempt to introduce the re-enactment as evidence at trial.

"There is no legitimate reason for the test other than to further fan the fires of prejudice," said Austin Campriello, complaining in particular about the timing of the tests so close to the trial's Sept. 14 start date. "We have objected to it and my understanding is that it will not take place until the judge has a chance to rule on it."

FBI agents also have exploded a van similar to the Ryder van that contained the bomb, as part of their investigation.

The 1,200-pound bomb that was planted in a garage below the Twin Towers blew a cavernous gash in the base of the trade center, wreaking hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage, injuring 1,000 people and killing six.

That homemade bomb, say investigators, was concocted out of a few hundred dollars worth of chemicals and acids.

Federal prosecutors in the trade center case are also keeping the door open to introducing secretly recorded tapes made by government informant Emad A. Salem, according to court papers filed Friday.

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