Witness and Terrorism Expert: '93 WTC Bombing Inseparable from 9/11 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Witness and Terrorism Expert: '93 WTC Bombing Inseparable from 9/11

Jim Grismer was the general manager of the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993. Jim Grismer was the general manager of the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993.
Bill Daughterty worked in counter terrorism for the CIA for more than a decade. Bill Daughterty worked in counter terrorism for the CIA for more than a decade.

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Fifteen years ago today, America received a shock that those close to the situation say shouldn't have been a surprise.

One is Bill Daugherty, a former counter-terrorism expert with the CIA.

"When the World Trade Center bombing first took place, my first thought was, what took them so long?" said Daugherty, who was working at the CIA training center on the morning of February 26, 1993. "And I didn't even know who 'them' was at the time. But the idea that the United States, because of our barriers of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, would somehow be immune to this kind of violence was very unrealistic."

Jim Grismer was closer to the attack and is also close to Daugherty's viewpoint.

Grismer was the general manager of the World Trade Center in 1993 and had often discussed with colleagues how the building was an obvious target for people seeking to make a point against America.

"We felt very strongly that, like the UN, we're a symbol of the American capitalist society," says Grismer. "And a lot of people were angry about our worldwide policies I assume."

But even those conscious of what could happen could not be prepared for what did what did happen when a car bomb exploded in the basement parking garage of one of the trade center's towers, killing six people there and shaking an entire nation's concept of security.

"Things changed after '93," says Grismer. "We all learned that the ambitions and the aggressiveness of the terrorists far exceeded our imaginations. They proved that very well in 2001."

"Here for the first time," added Daugherty, "you were seeing the possibility that the United States could be the victim of a major deliberate attack against the civilian population - for the first time. And that was something of a psychological shock for the American people."

And yet it could not prepare the country for the attack on the same site that followed eight years later, any more than upgraded security measures could protect the building when terrorists struck from the sky.

"I don't think anybody expected this kind of thing in those years," said Grismer. "We were all so innocent throughout the country."

That started to change on February 26, 1993.

But if that day witnessed terrorism's first step into this country, it was not far removed from the next devastating step on September 11, 2001.

"I really see the two events together," says Grismer, who had retired by 2001. "I can't separate them in my mind any more. But I don't have a day when I don't think about it. I try not to, but I always think about it. Everything reminds me of it.

"There's always that lingering sadness in the background. I lost 38 people that worked for me in 2001."

Grismer moved to Savannah in 2003 but remains affected by the experiences of two terrorist attacks on a building where he spent his entire 33-year career with the Port Authority.

And that goes beyond his aversion to large crowds that developed after September 11.

"I have this fear that I can't shake that I know they'll be back," says Grismer. "I said that in '93. I think we all believed they'd be back, never thinking they'd be back on such large scale."

Reported by: Tim Guidera, tguidera@wtoc.com - Read more of Tim's stories here.

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