On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 am, the Ryder truck parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma exploded, ripping the front of the building and slaying 168 people. I remember being at work when the news of the bombing reached me. The large TV monitor that tracked business issues was changed to the local news station, and images of the devastation played while the talking heads commented continuously.
The initial news reports linked the bombing to Muslim fanatics. Since the World Trade Center had been attacked just two years before with the same type of ammonium nitrate fertilizer bomb, it is easy to see why the first thought was to suspect a repeat performance. By the second day, the news was no longer looking for Muslim fanatics, and Timothy McVeigh was charged with the bombing. He had been stopped only 90 minutes after the explosion because he was driving without a license plate on his car. He was detained on firearm charges, and as he was getting ready to be released on the 21st, McVeigh was identified and charged. Meanwhile in Kansas, Terry Nichols, McVeigh’s colleague from his army service, surrendered to police.
With the announcement of the capture of McVeigh and Nichols, all the previous speculation about Muslim fanatics evaporated. Over time, people have wondered how or even if the Oklahoma bombing fit into the wave of Muslim terrorist activities during the ’90s, but information is pointing more and more to a real link.
During the initial hours, a call went out for John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2 who were seen leaving the scene in Oklahoma City, but after the announcement of McVeigh’s capture, John Doe No. 2 was dropped from the case. Rita Cosby from Fox News reported the following:
Plus, there’s the fact that more than two dozen people, credible people, whom I have spoken with face-to-face, say they saw McVeigh with someone else. Prosecutors say all these people are mistaken, that McVeigh was alone in the Ryder truck that fateful day.
Rita Cosby expands on this information in another news report:
The FBI quickly identified Timothy McVeigh as John Doe No. 1 — the man who rented the Ryder truck used in the deadly plot. But the FBI discounted dozens of eyewitness statements about a John Doe No. 2. And some ask why.
“The government tried to tell us that there was no John Doe 2 in the truck with McVeigh,” Lawton said. “We got witnesses that saw him in the truck, saw him get out of the truck, walk across the street and get into a brown Chevrolet pickup with two more John Doe 2′s. That makes three.”
A number of eyewitnesses said they saw McVeigh with other men at a variety of locations in Oklahoma and Kansas before the attack. Some accounts put McVeigh with other men on the morning of the bombing — but the FBI has ruled them out.
Jayna Davis points out that an ex-Iraqi named Hussain al-Hussaini was a very close match for the composite John Doe No. 2 image. Al-Hussaini sued Jayna Davis for defamation of character when she broke her story, but that suit was later tossed out. Since then he has vanished from the public eye, just like the John Doe No. 2 that the FBI was looking for so intently during the first hours after the bombing.
But more interesting than al-Hussaini–a probable member of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard–are the phone calls made by Nichols. Before the bomb blast, he made multiple calls to Star Glad Lumber in the Philippines. Star Glad Lumber was owned by a man whose brother and cousin were members of splinter factions of the Abu Sayyaf terror group. Terry Nichols made multiple calls to a home in Cebu City that has since been linked to 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef. Incidentally, the same type of bomb was used in both the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and in Oklahoma City two years later.
Yousef’s bomb manufacturing facility in the Philippines was discovered in 1995, and the police found a laptop computer containing three versions of the September 11 plot. One version was a plot to plant bombs in a multitude of airplanes crossing the Pacific, with the bombs timed to explode at the same time. In a second version, the flying bombs were timed to explode on flights over the U.S. In the third version, the plan was to hijack multiple airplanes and crash them into American landmarks. Both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers were specifically mentioned in this final plan.
According to investigators, Yousef’s uncle Khalid Sheik Mohammed presented the three plans to Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden decided to fund the third version of the plans, which led to the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. When you realize that the first version of the plan called for blowing up a dozen airplanes, the hijacking of only four airplanes seems minor in comparison to what could have happened.
Abdul Hakim Murad was Yousef’s al-Qaida partner in the Philippines. He was being held in prison in New York City on that April day ten years ago. When he heard of the blast in Oklahoma City, he told his guard that both he and Yousef were behind the bomb. This claim was sufficient to bring FBI agents to his cell, and Murad claimed that the bomb was the action of the Liberation Army, a code used by Yousef and al-Qaida for their attacks.
It is completely possible that Murad was simply capitalizing on the bomb in Oklahoma for the sake of attention, but there are enough links between him, Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh to raise some warning flags in my mind. And I have to wonder: why was the FBI so quick to publish information about John Doe No. 2 as a Middle Eastern man, and just as quick to call that search off? Who really was John Doe No. 2, and if it was al-Hussaini, where is he today? When inmates facing the death penalty often spend 20 years or more before their execution, why was Tim McVeigh executed so swiftly–and why did he seem so very willing to die? It seems to me McVeigh had the same readiness to be killed that is seen in many religious martyrs.