Terrorists in Mid-America: The October 1 Suicide Bombing outside the University of Oklahoma Football Stadium May Have Been the Work of a Terrorist Cell, Not Simply the Act of a Disturbed Student

Article excerpt

Many of the 85,000 football fans at the Oklahoma University-Kansas State game on Saturday, October 1 thought they were hearing thunder. Others thought fireworks or a game cannon had been set off. But some in the packed Oklahoma Memorial Stadium were anxiously thinking "BOMB!" The loud explosive noise that erupted during the game's second quarter "was heard as far as five miles away," according to a report in The Oklahoma Daily, the university's student newspaper.

It was indeed a bomb that had caused the explosive sound, but many in the stadium did not know that until after the game. By then, news stories were already reporting some of the grisly facts. Some 30 yards from the entrance to the stadium was the lower half of a man's body; the upper half had been completely blown away in an apparent suicide bombing.

The following day, the remains of the body were identified as those of 21-year-old OU engineering student Joel Henry Hinrichs III. University officials and spokesmen for federal law enforcement agencies reacted quickly to assure the public that the bombing was simply the act of a mentally disturbed student, with no evidence of any connection to terrorism.

"We know that he has had what I would call emotional difficulties in the past," said University President David Boren in an October 2 press statement. "There is certainly no evidence at this point which points to any other kind of motivation other than his personal problems." In a joint statement, U.S. Attorney John Richter, FBI Oklahoma Bureau Chief Salvador Hernandez, and OU Police Chief Elizabeth Woolen said, "At this point, we have no information that suggests that there is any additional threat posed by others related to this incident."

Another Coverup

But some local media and independent sources in the Norman, Oklahoma, area where the incident took place, contacted by THE NEW AMERICAN, have challenged that official line, pointing to ample evidence indicating that Hinrichs was involved in a terrorist plot--and that the above-named officials are involved in a massive coverup.

KWTV Channel 9, the Oklahoma City affiliate of CBS, has reported a number of stories that conflict sharply with the official line that there is "no evidence" pointing to a connection between Hinrichs and terrorism:

* Police found Islamic jihad literature, as well as 1,000 pounds of explosives, in Hinrichs' apartment.

* Hinrichs shared his apartment with Fazal M. Cheema, a Pakistani; and a search of the apartment turned up a one-way airline ticket for Cheema to Algeria. The FBI questioned Cheema and released him. Now they don't know where he is.

* Hinrichs dropped out of school in 2003 and did not reenroll at OU until the spring of 2005. The FBI has not accounted for his whereabouts during this interim.

* Hinrichs, who sported a Muslim-style beard, had been attending the nearby mosque and was associated with a group of Muslim Pakistani students.

In addition to the above, a number of other disturbing facts that defy mere coincidence point toward a terrorist connection in the Hinrichs bombing:

* The Norman Police Department has confirmed that on September 28, three days before the explosion, Hinrichs had attempted to purchase 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Ellison's Feed Store in Norman. Mr. Ellison, who refused to sell him the fertilizer, has confirmed the story in several interviews. Ammonium nitrate, which has been a common ingredient of bombs used by al-Qaeda and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups, was also the main ingredient of the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bomb.

* According to unconfirmed reports, Hinrichs had made more than one attempt to enter the stadium, but was turned away when he refused to allow security personnel to search his backpack. …