FACT CHECK: Andrew Cuomo Said The First Terror Attack In New York City Was The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was the first terrorist attack in New York City.

Verdict: False

New York City suffered over a dozen terrorist attacks in the 20th century before the World Trade Center bombing.

Fact Check:

Cuomo made the claim at a news conference about suspicious packages that contained what appeared to be pipe bombs sent to CNN offices in New York City and to Democratic figures like former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire George Soros. The governor announced Wednesday that he also received a suspicious package, but police later said that it only contained a letter and a USB drive.

“Also, a little perspective: The first terrorist attack in New York City was 1993, 25 years ago, was the bombing of the World Trade Center,” Cuomo said. “So in some ways, this is nothing new. We have lived with this for a long time. Actually, my father was governor at that time.”

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people and injured over 1,000 others, was not the first terror attack in New York City.

Over a dozen terror attacks rocked the Empire City in the 20th century before 1993. Police foiled some attempts, but many others killed or injured city residents and visitors.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to a media inquiry noting the other terrorist incidents.

Here are some of the most notable New York City terror attacks before 1993:

Wall Street Bombing, 1920

A bomb planted in a horse-drawn carriage exploded near the New York Stock Exchange one minute after the Trinity Church bells struck noon on Sept. 16, 1920. The blast killed 38 people and injured hundreds more, maiming limbs, hands and feet.

An investigation did not yield any indictments, but authorities at the time suspected that Italian anarchists, or possibly communists, were responsible.

World’s Fair Bombing, 1940

Two bomb squad officers died and five other policemen were hurt on July 4, 1940 after a bomb planted in the British Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair exploded. The culprits were never found.

Some speculate that a British spy planted the bomb in an attempt to gain U.S. support in World War II. The British pulled their army from Dunkirk exactly a month earlier, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill had sent British intelligence officer William Stephenson to New York City the same month as the attack.

“Mad Bomber” Attacks, 1940 – 1957

The “Mad Bomber,” as dubbed by newspapers, planted 33 pipe bombs throughout New York City starting in 1940. Some never detonated, but 22 of them injured 15 people.

“Con Edison crooks, this is for you,” read a note left alongside a bomb in 1940, referring to the Consolidated Edison power company.

The “Mad Bomber” eluded police for 16 years. He paused his attacks during World War II, citing his “patriotic feelings” in a note to police signed “F.P.” But he resumed planting bombs in 1951, which exploded around landmarks like the New York Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and Radio City Music Hall.

Police eventually captured the bomber, George Metesky, in 1957 after he revealed in a letter to the New York Journal-American newspaper that he had worked at the power company, but had left in 1931 after being injured by a boiler explosion that he said caused his tuberculosis. Metesky, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, confessed to his crimes and remained at the Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane until 1973.

A Series Of Bombings In 1969

Police arrested antiwar radical Samuel Melville and three others in 1969 in connection with eight bombings in New York City throughout the same year. They targeted locations like the Marine Midland building, a federal office building, the Chase Manhattan Bank and the General Motors building.

“The Establishment is in for some big surprises if it thinks that kangaroo courts and death sentences can arrest a revolution,” read a letter from the bombers to The New York Times.

The bombs did not kill anyone, but some were injured. Melville died in prison the year after his conviction during the Attica prison uprising.

Fraunces Tavern Bombing, 1975

Four people died and at least 50 others were wounded in a bombing of the Fraunces Tavern on Jan. 24, 1975. The Puerto Rican nationalist group Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) took responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to a bombing that occurred in Puerto Rico. No one was ever charged in connection with the bombing.

La Guardia Airport Bombing, 1975

A bomb that blew up in La Guardia Airport terminal four days after Christmas in 1975 killed 11 and injured 75 others. It was the deadliest New York City terror attack since the 1920 Wall Street carriage bombing.

Although no arrests were made in connection with the attack, authorities suspected that Croatian nationalist Zvonko Busic was responsible. He maintained his innocence until his death in 2013.

Metropolitan Opera House Tear Gas Attack, 1986

A tear gas canister thrown minutes into a performance by a Soviet dance company at the Metropolitan Opera House injured more than 30 people on Sept. 2, 1986.

The Associated Press received a call that said Russian members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) were responsible for the attack, but the JDL denied any involvement. The following year, the assistant U.S. attorney general said that three former JDL leaders who pled guilty to other charges were involved with the tear gas attack but not charged under a plea agreement.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter

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