Crime Scene - World Trade Center
Part Three: The Terrorists, the Mafia, and Missed Opportunities A Special Report on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
By J. R. de Szigethy
Since it's opening in April, 1973, New York City's World Trade Center has been the site of four crime scenes; the first and fourth involved members of the American Mafia, the second and third were the acts of Islamic terrorists. As the nations of the World observe the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers, such attention on this event is at the risk of ignoring the other three crime events, and the missed opportunities presented by each incident to public authorities. Simply put, the domination of organized crime families in New York's construction industry presents it's own threat to the public safety, in addition to those who would commit suicide -and mass murder - in an effort to disrupt the American way of life.
I. THE FIRST CRIME SCENE: OCTOBER 4, 1990
With the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11, various authorities and investigators began to scrutinize every aspect of the buildings which fell. Questions were asked; Why did the buildings collapse?
Inevitably, attention was focused on the fireproofing of the buildings, and what was discovered - most of which the public at large was unaware of - was troubling. The Contract to fireproof the buildings - which was worth many millions of dollars - was awarded to one Louis DiBono, an associate of the Gambino Mafia Family then headed by John Gotti. At one point there was an investigation as to whether bribery and kickback schemes were involved in the awarding of this Contract, but this did not result in criminal charges.(1) However, it should be noted that the World Trade Center was by no means a typical construction project. The site was developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, whose primary responsibility is the bridges and tunnels and docks along the waterfront of both States. Because the Port Authority is a multi-State entity, it's projects are exempt from New York City building codes.
As is typical with Mob-controlled businesses, DiBono's Contract allowed a substantial amount of money to be kicked up to the Godfather, John Gotti. What investigators would later discover is that DiBono maximized his profits by cutting corners; in some cases entire floors of the Twin Towers had no fireproofing foam applied to the steel infrastructure. Over 1,000 photographs of the Twin Towers taken between 1986 to 2000 by Architect Roger Morse detailed the incomplete and inconsistent fireproofing work performed by DiBono's company.(2)
Complicating matters was the fact that asbestos fireproofing material - which tests had showed offered substantial protection against heat - was abandoned over health concerns in the early portion of the construction of the North Tower. That Tower, by design, was engineered to be stronger than the South Tower, given that the building would take the brunt of winds that habitually blow from the North across the Hudson River. This fact explains in part why the North Tower - which was the one struck first by aircraft - stood longer than did it's weaker sister building, the South Tower.
Professor Frederick Mowrer of the Fire Protection Engineering Department of the University of Maryland, is among those experts funded by the National Science Foundation who have investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. The findings of these experts suggests that the inadequate fireproofing of the Twin Towers may have been a significant factor in their collapse. Their findings suggest that had the Towers been adequately fireproofed, these buildings would have stood much longer, allowing the evacuation to safety of many more victims.
Louis DiBono did not live to see the buildings he failed to completely protect collapse to the ground. In 1992, John Gotti went on trial for the murder of DiBono and four others, a trial in which turncoat Sammy "The Bull" Gravano was the key Prosecution Witness. At trial evidence was presented from secret wiretaps in an apartment in lower Manhattan which was used as a meeting place for Gotti and his gang. The tapes revealed that Gotti had called DiBono in for a meeting and that DiBono was refusing to meet with him. DiBono had good reason to be wary of the Godfather; during that time, the greedy Sammy Gravano was in the habit of murdering members of the Family in order to take over their lucrative businesses in the construction industry. Transcripts of the tapes, released prior to the trial, quoted Gotti regarding DiBono: "Know why he's dying? He's gonna die because he refused to come in when I called. He didn't do nothing else wrong!" (3)
Carrying out the contract to murder DiBono were Gotti driver Bobby Boriello and hitman Charles Carneglia. The crime was particularly shocking. The two hitmen followed DiBono to his car - a Cadillac - which was parked in the subterranean parking lot below the North Tower where DiBono's office was located. Such was the level of Security - or lack thereof - at the World Trade Center that the two men walked right up to DiBono, who was then shot three times at point blank. DiBono's body lay in his car undetected for 3 days, discovered on October 4, 1990.
John Gotti was convicted of this murder, among others, and spent his last years in prison. Charles Carneglia was convicted for the murder of Louis DiBono and three other men in March, 2009. Bobby Boriello was murdered in April, 1991 by Luchese Underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, with the assistance of "Mafia Cops" Lou Eppolito, Sr. and Stephen Caracappa. In April, 2006, Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted for the murder of Bobby Boriello and several other murders.
II. THE FOURTH CRIME SCENE: AUGUST 18, 2007
On this date a fire broke out on the upper floors of the Deutsche Bank building in lower Manhattan, killing 2 Firefighters, whose deaths would be ruled a Homicide.
The fire broke out in a building that had been severely damaged on 9/11 by the collapse of the adjacent Twin Towers and was under the process of being demolished so that it could be replaced by Tower 5 of the new World Trade Center.
Just three months earlier, an accident at the site should have acted as a signal to public officials in regards to the problems associated with the demolition of the building. On May 17th of that year, workers for the John Galt company, which had the contract to de-construct the building, were in the process of cutting a water pipe when a section of that pipe fell from the 35th floor and crashed into an adjacent New York City Firehouse. Miraculously, no one was killed, although two New York City Firefighters were injured by debris from the fall.(4)
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: February, 2005
Two and a half years before the fatal fire, an internal New York City Fire Department memo was issued to the Chief of Operations, which recommended an emergency firefighting plan be implemented for the Deutsch building, which stood just yards away from the site where 343 Firefighters had lost their lives on 9/11. No such firefighting plan was implemented.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: August 3, 2007
On this date, the URS Corporation, an engineering design firm, issued a report to it's employer, Bovis Lend Lease, the principal construction company involved in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The report outlined numerous safety hazards occurring during the de-construction of the Deutsche Bank building by the John Galt Company. Several small fires that occurred over a period of a few months were among the evidence cited in regards to what the author of the report called "an accident waiting to happen!"(5)
Two weeks later, another fire broke out. Scores of New York City Firefighters responded. The firefighters entered a building for which their was no action plan, and were unaware of alterations to the building. One such was that stairwells were blocked by plywood barriers which had been erected to contain the spread of asbestos dust being dislodged as the building was demolished floor by floor. Nor did Firefighters know that the Standpipe, the primary conduit of water for large buildings, had been cut as a cost-saving measure. Two Firefighters, Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino, became trapped on one of the upper floors and were asphyxiated.
New Yorkers were shocked by this tragic and avoidable event. There was a time, not so long ago, when the perception of most Americans was that the New York City Fire Department and Police Department were the most professional, well-equipped public safety organizations in the country. That notion perished with the 343 Firefighters and 23 Police Officers who died on 9/11 on a day when the inadequate communications equipment of such men and women was exposed in tragedy.
It was the understanding of the average citizen of New York City that lessons would be learned from that dark day, and the necessary measures would be taken to improve the safety standards for both departments. Instead, residents learned that the Fire Department was not inspecting the Deutsche Building on a twice-monthly basis as was mandated.
Then there was the matter of the American Mafia. News reports linked the John Galt Company, as well as Union members working at the site, with organized crime, particularly the Gambino Family. One New York Times article revealed that there is no such person as John Galt; the company is instead named after a fictional character in Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged." Among the real-life persons identified were two men who worked for two separate companies associated with employees of the Galt company. One was a Gambino Family associate who had gone to prison twice; once for bribing a Federal Inspector in an attempt to conceal asbestos-removal violations at a building demolition site in Manhattan in 1988; the second conviction involved a scheme to rig the bidding process in pursuit of a construction industry contract.(6)
In the aftermath of the fire, OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fined Bovis Lend Lease and the John Galt Corporation over $400,000 for code violations, including failure to inspect the standpipe which had been severed, the blocking of stairwells, and allowing construction workers to smoke on the job.(7)
While the Manhattan District Attorney's Office was investigating the fire that took the lives of two firefighters, a series of incidents involving the construction industry dominated the Media, in which two dozen people were killed within a short period of time.
On March 15, 2008, 7 people were killed when a construction crane crashed into several buildings in Mid-Manhattan. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau would later Indict the Master Rigger in charge of the Crane for Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide. Some observers of this story were disappointed given that higher-ups in this construction industry chain were not Indicted. The Indicted Crane worker would later complain to the Media that he was nothing more than a "scapegoat." In a Foreshadowing of what would later come in the Manhattan District Attorney's prosecution of the Deutsche building trial, the Defendant was Acquitted of all charges in a Bench Trial in which the Judge also served as the Jury.
Prior to his retirement, Manhattan D. A. Robert Morgenthau announced numerous indictments in October, 2009 relating to investigations into the Mafia's control of the construction industry and it's effect on the public safety. The indictments against 29 people included members of the Luchese Mafia Family, 3 former Inspectors for the New York City Department of Buildings, and various companies and individuals in the real estate and construction industry. Among the indictments were a Laboratory which was accused of fabricating tests of concrete at New York City construction sites, including the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.
Thus, it was against this backdrop of highly publicized stories regarding the construction industry that New Yorkers anxiously awaited the process which took 16 months of investigation before Indictments were unveiled regarding the deaths of the two Firefighters at the Deutsche Bank Building. At long last, on December 22, 2008, 2 employees of the John Galt Corporation and an employee of Bovis Lend Lease were indicted on charges of Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide. The John Galt Corporation was also indicted.
Bovis Lend Lease escaped charges, as did members of the New York City Fire Department for failing to inspect the building. "Time and again the fire department missed opportunities to uncover the dangerous conditions at the Deutsche Bank building," Morgenthau stated when announcing the charges.
The indictments were met with derision by Joseph Graffagnino Sr., whose son was killed in the fire. Mr. Graffagnino blasted the D. A.'s office for not indicting others higher up in the chain of the myriad companies and authorities involved in the bank building deconstruction.
The Defendants in this case were under indictment for over two years before the case finally went to trial. All three Defendants were Acquitted and the John Galt Corporation was only convicted on a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge.
The trial had been faithfully attended by Firefighters and Firefighter Union officials, who, after the Verdicts, demanded a new investigation.
III. THE SECOND CRIME SCENE: FEBRUARY 26, 1993
On this date six people were murdered in the parking lot underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On this occasion, a van rented from Ryder Trucks was left in an unauthorized parking zone that went unexamined by Port Authority employees before the bomb inside exploded shortly after noon. The bomb tore a gaping hole through three floors of the sub-level parking lot, sending acrid smoke billowing up the ventilation systems of the North Tower. This required the evacuation of thousands of the building's occupants, including those who were trapped inside elevators that stalled once the explosion disrupted the Tower's electrical systems. Some occupants high in the Tower, desperate for fresh air to breathe, broke the windows of the building, waving handkerchiefs of despair as they risked plummeting hundreds of feet to their deaths. The cold Winter air blowing into the tower from the North only added to the upward-spiraling effect of smoke being lifted from the scene of the blast to each successive floor above. As thousands of panicked victims fought their way down the smoke-filled stairs arranged around the core of the building, they were met - and aided - by hundreds of members of the New York City Fire Department, Police Department, Port Authority Police, and paramedics, all racing up the stairs. This event was the largest-scale search and rescue operation any city in America had ever faced. In retrospect, it is amazing that no one else died that day; no one fell, jumped, or was pushed from the windows; no one died of smoke inhalation; no one suffered a fatal stress-induced heart attack or stroke. Still, in addition to the 6 people killed by the bomb, 1000 people were injured.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: OCTOBER 4, 1990
The murder of Louis DiBono in a public place - the parking lot beneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center, exposed a shocking lack of security at that site. DiBono's 350-pound body lay in his car for three days before it was discovered. This crime presented the opportunity for the Port Authority to ask the following question: What if, instead of a dead body, a car with a bomb inside was parked inside the parking lot? The terrorists who would later drive the bomb vehicle inside the parking lot would do so without being questioned, without being photographed by any surveillance camera, and without attracting any notice whatsoever.
In the aftermath of this bombing, associates of the America Mafia were ready as usual to make money off of this tragedy. As reported by Newsday one week after the bombing, 4 companies led by men associated with Gambino Godfather John Gotti were awarded lucrative contracts in the cleanup and recovery efforts. These included Gotti's son-in-law Carmine Agnello, whose Auto Salvage Shop towed away cars damaged by the bombing, and a nephew of Gotti's, described as a Shop Steward of a mob-controlled construction Union. Two other members of the Gotti family and one alleged associate of the Colombo Family were also mentioned in the report.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: NOVEMBER 5, 1990
One month after the first Crime Scene at the World Trade Center - the murder of Louis DiBono, another opportunity arose that, if carried to it's logical conclusion, could have prevented the second event to come, the terrorist bombing of 1993. This opportunity was the investigation into the public execution of the Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was shot dead by Islamic terrorists at the Marriott Hotel in Manhattan.
Meir Kahane was born in Brooklyn in 1932. For 3 years in the mid 1960s, Kahane worked as an FBI Informant working undercover in the John Birch Society, a right-of-center, anti-Communist non-profit organization. In 1968 Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League, a non-profit that resorted to radical, often violent means to promote the welfare of Jewish people. Kahane was also associated with Joe Colombo, Godfather of the Colombo Family. In 1970, Colombo founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League, a non-profit not dissimilar from Kahane's organization. Colombo's organization claimed that the FBI was unfairly targeting Italian-Americans in their fight against organized crime. In 1971, Kahane and several of his associates were arrested on weapons charges, prompting Godfather Colombo to provide the money to bail Kahane out of jail. Rabbi Kahane was with Colombo when the Godfather was shot in the head by an assassin at an Italian Unity Day rally in June, 1971. (8)
By 1990 Rabbi Kahane had attracted the attention of the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. The Sheik had come to the United States sponsored by Mustafa Shalabi, a veteran of the U. S. funded covert war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s. Abdel-Rachman began to preach at the Al Farouk Mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn which was adjacent to the Alkifah Refugee Center established by Shalabi. However, it became clear to Shalabi that the Sheik - who had participated in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat - was inciting his followers to commit similar violence in the United States. Thus, the two had a falling out and the Sheik and his followers relocated to a Mosque in New Jersey, from which the plot against the World Trade Center was hatched.
By November, 1990, the Sheik had decided that Rabbi Kahane should be murdered as an enemy of Islam and thus he issued a "Fatwa," a religious Edict devout followers are expected to carry out. The contract to murder Kahane was accepted by two of Sheik Rahman's followers, his driver Mahmud Abouhalima and a fellow Egyptian, El Sayyid Nosair. It was to be a public execution. On the evening of November 5, 1990, Rabbi Kahane was delivering a pro-Israel speech at a public event at the Marriott Hotel in mid-town Manhattan. After the speech, a member of the audience, Nosair, approached the Rabbi, pulled out a gun, and began shooting. Nosair then ran outside the hotel, expecting Abouhalima to be waiting in the getaway car. However, Abouhalima was not there. Instead, Nosair encountered a law enforcement official and a gunfight erupted between the two on the crowded sidewalks of Lexington Avenue. Both men received non-life-threatening bullet wounds which allowed for the arrest of Nosair.
Assigned to investigate this murder was "Mafia Cop" Stephen Caracappa, who would prove to be as incompetent as he was corrupt. Caracappa would pull a 30-hour straight duty as the NYPD scrambled to solve the shooting of a public figure whom had thousands of devoted followers throughout the city - many of whom, police feared, would resort to violence seeking revenge for the murder of their fallen leader. An NYPD spokesperson was adamant from the beginning of the investigation that authorities were convinced that the gunman had acted alone and that there was no conspiracy involved in the Rabbi's assassination. For three days this was the mantra the NYPD would chant to the Media, disclosing that Nosair was under the care of a psychiatrist and was taking the drug Prozac; thus, he was, as they said from the beginning, a "lone nut" who "acted alone."
As for Detective Caracappa, he ended his marathon 30-hour tour of duty by hooking up with his partner in crime Lou Eppolito. Instead of going home to get at least a few hours of much-needed rest, Caracappa and Eppolito went out searching for Eddie Lino, a heroin addict/dealer member of the Gambino Family whom was the target of murder by Gaspipe Casso. Finding Lino leaving a Brooklyn Mafia hangout, the two cops followed Lino on the Belt Parkway that traverses the waterfront. Flashing their badges at Lino as they pulled up alongside his Mercedes Benz, the two cops succeeded in getting Lino to pull over under the guise of a traffic stop. Caracappa then fired several bullets from his gun into the body of Lino, killing him instantly.
Acclaimed investigative reporter Peter Lance's best-seller TRIPLE-CROSS would later reveal that on the day after the murder of Rabbi Kahane, the NYPD and FBI led a raid on Nosair's house in New Jersey, seizing dozens of boxes of documents. Some of the documents were related to the building of bombs, and some were government documents stolen from the U. S. Army facility at Fort Bragg, North Carolina by an Islamic Terrorist, Ali Mohamed. Mohamed worked secretly as an FBI Informant, but, like Nosair, was loyal to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Incredibly, one week later the NYPD declared that Nosair was indeed as they said from the beginning a "lone gunman" and the FBI and NYPD closed the case.
It would later be revealed that Osama bin Laden would provide money for the legal defense of El Sayyid Nosair. At his trial, despite the numerous witnesses to the shooting of Rabbi Kahane and the law enforcement officer, Nosair was acquitted of the assassination of Rabbi Kahane, but convicted of weapons possession. Nosair was later convicted, along with Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and their accomplices, for the various conspiracies to bomb New York landmarks, including the World Trade Center. Nosair has now filed an Appeal for a new trial on his weapons conviction in the Kahane murder, claiming as a witness none other than FBI Informant/Al Qaeda operative Ali Mohamed.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: SPRING, 1996
In 1996, Colombo Family member Greg Scarpa Jr. found himself housed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, held to face charges of murder, drug trafficking and racketeering. Scarpa was placed in a cell adjacent to Ramzi Yousef, who was being held while awaiting trial for being the mastermind in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In yet another intersection between a case of the American Mafia and international terrorists, Scarpa would later claim that he was recruited by the FBI to spy on Yousef, photographing diagrams Yousef showed to him with a secret, miniature camera. Scarpa would also claim he told the FBI about a terrorist plot he learned of from Yousef against a Prosecutor and Federal Judge. Scarpa claimed that Yousef told him about the methods he and his fellow terrorists used. Those included the improvisation of bombs aboard airliners using simple, commonly available components, some disguised as toiletries. Yousef was alleged to have also told Scarpa that a bomb could be secreted aboard a plane constructed inside a man's shoe. Yousef also mentioned that England was the country through which terrorists would operate in their future attacks against America, which, he claimed, would continue as long as he and Sheik Rahman remained incarcerated in the U. S. Scarpa Jr. claimed he was able to gain the trust of Yousef by pretending to be part of the "militia movement" that had included those involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. (9)
Unlike his father, Greg Scarpa, Sr., who, as a protected FBI Informant literally possessed a "License to Kill," Scarpa Jr. did not benefit from his work as an FBI Informant. Instead, Scarpa Jr. was denounced by Federal Judge Jack Weinstein as "not credible" and Scarpa was shipped off to "Supermax," the secure prison that is buried under the mountains of Colorado. However, in recent years, the claims made by Scarpa have been corroborated, most notably the "shoe bomb" plot attempted by terrorist Richard Reid aboard American Airlines Flight 63 during the Christmas season in 2001.
IV. THE THIRD CRIME SCENE: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
On this date, 2,749 men, women, and children were murdered by Islamic terrorists at the World Trade Center. Of these, 343 were New York City Firefighters, 23 were New York City Police Officers, and 37 were Port Authority Police Officers. However, the death toll was not yet complete, and continues to rise to this very day.
In response to this national crisis, thousands of New York area residents descended upon the site to volunteer their services. The First Responders who succeeded in making their way to "The Pile" as it was then called did so knowing the area was still dangerous. Some took comfort and inspiration from the actions of public figures, while others were too busy to make notice. On the third day after the attacks, President Bush stood up on the The Pile and spoke these words of encouragement to the First Responders: "I can hear you!" Four days later, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a report, assuring the residents of New York that the air there was safe to breathe.
Thus began the tragic journey of the Responders, who would become victims of not only the actions of the terrorists, but of politicians and beaurocrats as well.
While the Responders were working at Ground Zero in the early days of the recovery and clean up effort, members of the Mafia also took stock of the situation to determine how to profit from this national tragedy. 250 tons of steel beams pulled from the rubble were diverted by truck drivers to scrap metal yards in Long Island and New Jersey. The steel was supposed to have been sent to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where all debris from Ground Zero was to be examined for evidence relating to the crime, as well as for personal affects of the victims, and, also, body parts and DNA(10). To stop this diversion, GPS tracking devices were installed in trucks transporting debris from the Trade Center, in order to ensure that trucks delivered their loads to the Fresh Kills site.
In February, 2003, Federal indictments were issued against Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace, the Acting Boss of the Colombo Family, and members of Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operators and Engineers, on charges relating to no-show job kickback schemes at New York City construction sites. In a rare move, indictments were announced by two offices, the Feds in Brooklyn and their counter-parts in Manhattan. The on-going investigation also looked for similar schemes that occurred during the clean up of Ground Zero, which involved workers for the same Unions.(11)
Ground Zero also proved a tempting opportunity for various con artists to exploit. In the chaos and confusion following the terrorist attacks several men emerged who turned their claimed heroics as Responders into their own private piggy bank. Some indeed were at Ground Zero, but shamelessly self-promoted their actions there, setting up websites and engaging in speaking tours that played on the average citizen's Patriotism. Some have since been exposed by the various Media as having completely fabricated their claimed heroic acts at the Trade Center. Various non-profit organizations also sprang up which raised considerable funds from the American public. Some of these were legitimate while others were of dubious value. Also, some people responded to this event by seeking to place responsibility for these terrorists attacks on persons other than Osama bin-Laden and his terrorist organization.
By contrast, one non-profit organization is worthy of special mention for it's aggressive championing of the rights of Responders who are now ill. That group is the Feal-Good Foundation, created by Responder John Feal, a construction industry Worker whose left foot was crushed when a steel beam fell upon it at Ground Zero. Facing death due to Gangrene, doctors amputated his foot, saving - and forever changing - his life.
The plight facing the Responders in 2005 when the Feal-Good Foundation was created was two-fold; first, to get the Medical community to determine through scientific methods the cause and effect of exposure to WTC toxins and the health problems uncommon to the average citizen but common to the Responders. Secondly, the Responders had to convince people in positions of authority on the City, State, and Federal level that there was a moral, if not legal, responsibility on their part to attend to the medical needs of the Responders. Some such politicians and beaurocrats were indifferent towards the Responders, while some were outright hostile.
Among those who acknowledged Federal responsibility were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who co-Sponsored the Zadroga Act in the House, with her counter-part Bob Menendez advocating the Senate version of the Bill. The Bill was named after James Zadroga, a NYPD Detective who died in January, 2006 from a respiratory illness common to those such as himself who spent time inhaling the toxic fumes at Ground Zero.
The efforts of such members of Congress were aided in November, 2006, by a Forensic Intelligence Analyst, Angela Clemente, who had worked extensively with Congressional committees in exposing official malfeasance and corruption. Clemente organized a 9/11 Health Crisis Conference at a public facility in New Jersey which brought together experts in the Medical, Legislative, law enforcement, news Media, and Responder communities to faciliate and coordinate efforts in regards to what was becoming a national disgrace.
On February 25, 2008, the Feal-Good Foundation organized a trip to Washington, D. C. to bring Congressional members face to face with the growing numbers of Responders who were dying. Among those in attendance was Ironworker Joe Picurro, then 40 years of age. Picurro would die of lung cancer in 2010 at the age of 43.
Unfortunately, as is far too often the case in matters of importance, "politics" got in the way. Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a consensus on passing the Zadroga Act, leaving the Responders abandoned for months, and then, as time dragged on, years.
And then came an event that outraged many Americans, and reminded them of the unfinished business with the Responders. In December, 2009, the New York Times reported that an Islamic center to be called "Cordoba House" was to be built in a building damaged during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Cordoba is a city in Spain that was conquered by Islamic invaders during the "Dark Ages," during which the Christian Cathedral in the city was converted into a Mosque. Critics of Islam claim that such "Victory Mosques" have been settled in cities conquered by Islamic armies throughout the world and serve to further spread the Muslim religion and suppress all others.
This planned Islamic center sparked a nationwide protest, and particularly touched a nerve of New Yorkers, who were quite aware of how the first Islamic terrorist attack at the World Trade Center was carried out by members of Mosques in Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey. The news Media then raised serious, unanswered questions as to the background and funding of those individuals involved in the project. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani condemned the proposed Mosque, whereas his successor Mike Bloomberg supported the center, citing Freedom of Religion issues.
One positive outcome of the national debate over the "Victory Mosque" was that it refocused once again the nation on the plight of the WTC Responders. As a result, growing public pressure on members of Congress to address the health care concerns of the Responders created the conditions by which Congress could no longer stall the implementation of the Zadroga Act. Finally, on December 22, 2010, Congress passed the Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama.
The controversy surrounding this issue, however, was not to go away. On July 26, 2011, Dr. John Howard, the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, issued a report claiming that there was no conclusive scientific evidence to prove that WTC Responders who have since been diagnosed with various cancers did in fact become victims of cancer as a result of their exposure to the numerous toxins in the air and debris at Ground Zero. The announcement outraged those in the Responder community, as well as eliciting reactions of Condemnation from those including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who noted that more NYPD cops have died since 9/11 as a result of their work at Ground Zero than those who perished on that day.
Dr. Howard's conclusions were contradicted on September 1, 2011, by a new report that tracked the health conditions of New York City Firefighters involved in the response efforts at Ground Zero. The report appeared in the British Medical Journal The Lancet.
Adding Insult to Injury, in the weeks leading up to the preparations for the ceremony to mark the 10th Anniversary of the terrorists attacks of 9/11, it was revealed that First Responders would not be invited to the official ceremony at Ground Zero.
On September 8, 2011, the New York City Police Department held a Memorial Service for those members who died as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly presented Medals to family members of all of the victims, including the daughter of Detective James Zadroga.
On 9/11, 2011, while various politicians took part in the official ceremony at Ground Zero, many Responders attended other ceremonies in the New York area, including one organized by the Feal-Good Foundation.
In the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, many residents of New York became anxious, fearing a new terrorist attack was imminent. On 9/10, the day before the anniversary, the New York Daily News reported that the NYPD was searching for three vehicles stolen from construction sites. It was feared the vehicles could be used by terrorists as car bombs. The News report noted that two of the vehicles belonged to Tully Construction, a company performing work near the World Trade Center.(12)
What the Daily News report failed to do was to research Tully Construction from their own archives. The News had reported on June 11, 1996, that Tully Construction had entered into an agreement by which it would continue to receive lucrative contracts from the City in exchange for taking steps to end ties between the company and members of the Gambino Family.(13)
Thus, given this background, rather than the thefts of these construction vehicles being the work of terrorists, it is more likely that they were stolen by members of the American Mafia.
Related Features by this author:
"A Tale of Two Murders: A Special Report on the Fifth Anniversary of 9/11, September, 2006.
Crime Scene: World Trade Center, September, 2004.
1. "Trade Center's Fireproofing had a questionable history," New York Times, December 14, 2001.
2. "World Trade Center Builder's Greed Responsible for Massive Death Toll," by Brian Williams, The Militant, January 7, 2002.
3. "Gotti's Orders for Hits Heard on FBI Tapes," Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1991.
4. "Debris from WTC Skyscraper Hits Firehouse," New York Daily News, May 17, 2007.
5. "Morgy Blasts L.M.D.C. & City on Deutsche Deaths," Downtown Express, December 26-January 1, 2009.
6. "Obscure Company is behind 9/11 Demolition Work," New York Times, August 24, 2007.
7. "Deutsche Fire Firms are Fined," New York Post, February 20, 2008.
8. THE FALSE PROFIT: RABBI MEIR KAHANE - FROM FBI INFORMANT TO KNESSET MEMBER, by Robert I. Friedman, Lawrence Hill & Company, 1990.
9. TRIPLE-CROSS by Peter Lance, Harper Collins - 2006.
10. "Probers Bearing Down on 6 Truckers in WTC Scrap Scheme," the New York Post, September 29, 2001.
11. "How the Mob Muscled in at Ground Zero, by Al Guart, New York Post, March 2, 2003.
12. "Fear of 9/11 Al Qaeda Car Bombing Plot has NYPD Searching for Three Stolen Construction Vehicles," by the New York Daily News, September 9 and 10, 2011.
13. "Scrutinized Firm Gets City Contracts," the New York Daily News, June 11, 1996.
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