Bombers left clues, FBI says Reports say people saw truck in hurry

March 02, 1993|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- The World Trade Center bombers left clues everywhere.

Although federal and city investigators have yet to reach the "seat" of the explosion, top FBI officials yesterday said they've already collected enough leads to build a promising investigation into the explosion that killed at least five and wreaked terror on the Twin Towers.

"I'd bet a week's salary we're going to solve this crime," said James Fox, the assistant FBI director in charge of the New York office.

Mr. Fox said federal agents "have some pretty good raw information and intelligence" that the bomb was driven into the underground parking garage minutes before it detonated. Agents yesterday sifted through the bombed area, removing dust and metal fragments.

Most likely, the bomb was transported by a large car or van that possibly was photographed by a video camera mounted near the main entrance on West Street, investigators said yesterday.

Mr. Fox would not say if anyone had identified a vehicle that investigators believe was involved in the bombing.

According to sources, one 911 caller said he had spotted a blue van or truck traveling at high speed from the World Trade Center about the time of the explosion, but it was unclear what connection, if any, the vehicle might have had to the bombing.

The CBS Evening News, citing a source close to the investigation, reported last night that witnesses described a truck leaving the parking garage at a high rate of speed at the time of the blast.

The witnesses said the truck was moving so fast that it was "banging into things on the way out," the report said. CBS said the witnesses apparently described the truck as riding so high on its springs that its top hit the garage ceiling on its way out.

The report said investigators were wondering whether the truck was rigged to carry a very heavy load and whether that load was left in the trade center's parking garage.

A tourist in the vicinity also shot videotape of people fleeing the building, and investigators are expected to review that footage, officials said.

Investigators also have parking stubs from the underground garage on which attendants wrote down the license plate numbers of all cars that entered.

And major leads developed from a series of calls from witnesses who saw what Mr. Fox termed "suspicious" behavior and noticed cars moving in and out of the garage. About a dozen calls came in, and Mr. Fox said three or four proved valuable.

In news briefings throughout the day, Mr. Fox said that people in the area shortly before the explosion might have noticed the bomb-bearing vehicle if it was overburdened by as much of a half-ton of an explosive device.

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