For all intents and purposes the war on terrorism (or whatever it's called) began on this day in 1993. Of the rag-tag group who constructed and transported the massive bomb (laced with cyanide) to the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center, only one was said to be a real player. His arrival occurred in late 1992 at JFK with entrance based on an Iraqi passport. As reported by Laurie Mylroie in "The War Against America", the passport signature page ironically had a familiar date...
Think what you will about Mylroie (and many conservatives don't buy what she's selling) but that date is certainly a weird coincidence. Or was it? A symbolic speech was given on September 11, 1990--the same day--announcing that Saddam's aggression towards Kuwait and beyond "would not stand" and contemplating a "new world order" where countries would live in peace free of terrorism, etc. And irony of ironies, today is the day Kuwait celebrates its freedom from Iraq after we liberated them in the Gulf War that followed the speech. We know terrorists love anniversaries. The passport was Iraqi.
Weird wild stuff. By the way, Iraqi complicity is not the only nefarious explanation aside from mere chance but since a public investigation never occurred there weren't many in-depth stories in the press, leaving only weak conspiracy theories (feel free to send the tinfoil). Looking back, only two days after the attack the Branch Davidian Waco standoff began and lingered for 50 days, taking over most of the subsequent headlines.
Anyway, after the bombing a law enforcement approach was taken; Yousef was later captured in Pakistan (our great ally) in 1995 and voluntarily gave up some information about his goals on the flight back to America. It's anyone's guess as to whether he was ever aggressively interrogated by the government as to his knowledge of the entire AQ network or any state sponsors. The presiding judge in his case wasn't even sure of his actual identity at the end of his trial. In other words, the same kind of confusion, obfuscation and mystery still present in our understanding of terrorism now. And it all began 19 years ago today.