During the early ’90s, I used to sell shareware and used computers out of a shipping container on Hoboken Avenue in Jersey City. As luck would have it, this was just across the railroad tracks from City Chemical – the source of the ingredients for the explosives used in the first attack on the World Trade Center.
Many of the area cab drivers were recent immigrants from Egypt. One of these cabbies (who dressed in traditional Arab garb), became a regular customer. I gave him a complete list of several thousand titles. The regular price was $3 per program. After a bit of haggling, we agreed on $1 per program in lots of one hundred. He bought one hundred EVERY week!!!
I started to notice a trend among the titles – CIVIL WAR, VISUALIZE CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, LIST OF FBI BULLETIN BOARDS, WHAT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER MEANS – programs dealing with chemistry, warfare, and espionage. When I was filling one order, a visitor, after perusing the list of titles, asked why I was researching these topics. I replied that it was for a customer. My friend commented that I should contact the FBI. I told him that he was just being paranoid.
A couple of weeks later, a bomb rocked the World Trade Center.
I didn’t see the shareware collector for many months. One day, someone walked in wearing blue jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat. I thought that the guy was a truckdriver from out West. When he started to speak, I immediately recognized the voice with the Middle Eastern accent.
“Do you have any new programs?”