Twelve years before the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed, white supremacists with close ties to the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nation drew up a plan to bomb the same building in much the same way.
Steven Snyder, a federal prosecutor, said in a recent interview that the plot, conceived in October 1983, called for parking a van or a trailer in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and blowing it up with rockets detonated by a timer.
Strangely, and perhaps only coincidentally, Richard Snell, an Oklahoma man identified by a government witness as a participant in that plan, was executed in Arkansas on April 19, the day of the actual bombing. He was 64 and had been convicted of two murders.
Although no evidence links Snell to last month's bombing or to either of the suspects now charged in it, his impending execution had been protested by right-wing paramilitary groups. They called him a patriot and called the federal government "the Beast."
Federal officials who investigated Snell on other charges said they considered it unlikely that he or his supporters had been involved.
Snyder uncovered evidence of the 1983 plot, including Snell's role in it, while preparing for trial in a sedition case against a group of white supremacists.
Although the existence of an earlier plot does not itself demonstrate any links between those identified as plotters then and those accused now, it does suggest that the idea of bombing this particular federal building could have been a subject of discussion among small extremist groups for more than a decade.
***** Tenuous Links
The only links between current bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh and people identified as the earlier conspirators are extremely tenuous.
McVeigh once got a traffic ticket in the Fort Smith, …