Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theories

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A variety of conspiracy theories have been proposed regarding the Oklahoma City bombing. These theories reject all or part of the official government report. Some of these theories focus on the possibility of additional, unindicted co-conspirators or additional explosives planted inside the Murrah Federal building. Other theories allege that government employees and officials, including US President Bill Clinton, knew of the impending bombing and intentionally failed to act on that knowledge. Government investigations have been opened at various times to look into the theories.

Oklahoma City bombing

Main article: Oklahoma City bombing

At 9:02 a.m. CST April 19, 1995, a Ryder rental truck containing more than 6,200 pounds (2,800 kg)[1] of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture was detonated in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.[2] The attack claimed 168 lives and left over 600 people injured.[3]

Shortly after the explosion, Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hanger stopped 26-year-old Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate, arresting him for that offense and for unlawfully carrying a weapon.[4] Within days, McVeigh's old army friend Terry Nichols was arrested and both men were charged with committing the bombing. Investigators determined that they were sympathizers of a militia movement and that their motive was to retaliate against the government's handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents (the bombing occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco incident). McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001 while Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

Although the indictment against McVeigh and Nichols alleged that they conspired with "others unknown to the grand jury", prosecutors, and later McVeigh himself, said the bombing was solely the work of McVeigh and Nichols. In this scenario, the two obtained fertilizer and other explosive materials over a period of months, and then assembled the bomb in Kansas the day prior to its detonation. After assembly, McVeigh alone drove the truck to Oklahoma City, lit the fuse and fled in a getaway car he had parked in the area days prior.

Additional conspirators

Several witnesses reported seeing a second person around the time of the bombing, whom investigators later called "John Doe 2".[5] In 1997, the FBI arrested Michael Brescia, a member of Aryan Republican Army, who resembled an artist's rendering of John Doe 2 based on the eyewitness accounts. However, they later released him, reporting that their investigation had indicated he was not involved with the bombing.[6] One reporter for The Washington Post reflected on the fact that a John Doe 2 has never been found: "Maybe he'll (John Doe 2) be captured and convicted someday. If not, he'll remain eternally at large, the one who got away, the mystery man at the center of countless conspiracy theories. It's possible that he never lived. It's likely that he'll never die."[6] In his speculative novel John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel, Kenneth Womack narrates the fictional John Doe No. 2's role in the bombing's back story, depicting him in the act of criss-crossing the US in the company of McVeigh and other co-conspirators.

There are several theories that McVeigh and Nichols had a possible foreign connection or co-conspirators.[7][8] This was due to the fact that Terry Nichols traveled through the Philippines while terrorist mastermind Ramzi Yousef of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was planning his Project Bojinka plot in Manila.[7][9] Ramzi Yousef also placed the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing inside a rented Ryder van, the same rental company used by McVeigh, indicating a possible foreign link to Al-Qaeda.[10] Other theories link McVeigh with Islamic terrorists, the Japanese government and German neo-Nazis.[11][12]

There has also been speculation that an unmatched leg found at the bombing site may have belonged to an unidentified, additional bomber.[13] It was claimed that this bomber was either in the building when the bombing occurred, or had previously been murdered, and McVeigh had left his body in the back of the Ryder truck to hide the body in the explosion.[14][15]

Additional explosives

One theory contends there was a cover-up of the existence of additional explosives planted within the Murrah building.[16] The theory focuses on the local news channels reporting the existence of a second and third bomb within the first few hours of the explosion.[16][17][18] Conspiracy theorists say that there are several discrepancies, such as an inconsistency between the observed destruction and the bomb used by McVeigh. Theorists point to nearby seismographs that recorded two tremors from the bombing, believing it to indicate two bombs had been used.[19] Experts dispute this, stating that the first tremor was a result of the bomb, while the second was due to the collapse of the building.[11][19][20]

US federal government involvement

Another theory alleged that President Bill Clinton had either known about the bombing in advance or had approved the bombing.[21][22] It is also believed that the bombing was done by the government to frame the militia movement or enact antiterrorism legislation while using McVeigh as a scapegoat.[11][21][22][23] Still other theories claim that McVeigh conspired with the CIA in plotting the bombing.[11][12]


In 2006, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, (Republican, California), said that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, which he chaired, would investigate whether the Oklahoma City bombers had assistance from foreign sources.[10] On December 28, 2006, when asked about fueling conspiracy theories with his questions and criticism, Rohrabacher told CNN: "There's nothing wrong with adding to a conspiracy theory when there might be a conspiracy, in fact."[24] In March 2007, Danny Coulson, who served as deputy assistant director of FBI at the time of attacks, voiced his concerns and called for reopening of investigation.[25]

On September 28, 2009, Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, released security tapes that he obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act that show the Murrah building before and after the blast from four security cameras. The tapes are blank at points before 9:02 am, the time of detonation. Trentadue said that the government's explanation for the missing footage is that the tape was being replaced at the time. Said Trentadue, "Four cameras in four different locations going blank at the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence."[26][27] Trentadue became interested in the case when his brother, Kenneth Michael Trentadue, died in federal custody during what Trentadue believes was an interrogation because Kenneth was mistaken for a possible conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing.[28]

In November 2014 John R. Schindler, a former professor at the Naval War College and National Security Agency intelligence officer, wrote "It would be good if a serious re-look at OKBOMB’s many unanswered questions were established for the event", because of "the existence of important evidence indicating there’s something we should be talking about". He stated that when he participated in a reexamination by the United States Intelligence Community after the September 11 attacks of possible foreign involvement with recent terrorist attacks, he found "as Rohrabacher’s investigators did a few years later, that the FBI and DoJ had no interest in anyone peeking into the case, which they considered closed, indeed tightly shut. Even in Top Secret channels, avenues were blocked". While cautioning that the bombing "has attracted more than its share of charlatans and self-styled experts, some of whom are eager to pin the bombing on Arabs, Masons, Jews, and perhaps space aliens", Schindler urged a resumption of Rohrabacher's investigation and cited two issues as notable: McVeigh's and Nichols's visits to the Philippines, and the activities of a German national and friend of McVeigh.[29]

See also


  • Crothers, Lane. Rage on the Right: The American Milita Movement from Ruby Ridge to Homeland Security. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. ISBN 0-7425-2546-5.
  • Hamm, Mark S. Apocalypse in Oklahoma: Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55553-300-0.
  • Hamm, Mark S. In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2002. ISBN 1-55553-492-9.
  • Israel, Peter, Jones, Stephen. Others Unknown: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy. New York: PublicAffairs, 2001. ISBN 978-1-58648-098-1.
  • Knight, Peter. Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. ISBN 1-57607-812-4.
  • Stickney, Brandon M. All-American Monster: The Unauthorized Biography of Timothy McVeigh. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. ISBN 1-57392-088-6.
  • Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8223-4103-4.
  1. Rogers, J. David; Keith D. Koper. "Some Practical Applications of Forensic Seismology" (PDF). Missouri University of Science and Technology. pp. 25–35. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  2. Thomas, Jo (April 30, 1996). "For First Time, Woman Says McVeigh Told of Bomb Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  3. Shariat, Sheryll; Sue Mallonee; Shelli Stephens-Stidham (December 1998). "Oklahoma City Bombing Injuries" (PDF). Injury Prevention Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health. 
  4. Ottley, Ted (April 14, 2005). "License Tag Snag". truTV. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  5. http://www.amazon.com/The-Third-Man-Oklahoma-ebook/dp/B00BRV9ORG is the draft of a 1997 article submitted to The New Yorker about John Doe 2, and it weighs the evidence for and against another conspirator.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Carlson, Peter (March 23, 1997). "In all the speculation and spin surrounding the Oklahoma City bombing, John Doe 2 has become a legend — the central figure in countless conspiracy theories that attempt to explain an incomprehensible horror. Did he ever really exist?". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 6, 2009. (Registration required (help)). 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Krall, Jay (June 18, 2002). "Conspiracy buffs see Padilla, Oklahoma City link". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2008-01-07. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  8. Cosby, Rita; Clay Rawson; Peter Russo (April 17, 2005). "Did Oklahoma City Bombers Have Help?". Fox News. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  9. Berger, J.M. "Did Nichols and Yousef meet?". Intelwire.com. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Rohrabacher, Dana; Phaedra Dugan. "The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection?" (PDF). Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Knight, Peter. Conspiracy Theories in American History. pp. 554–555. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Hamm, Mark S. Apocalypse in Oklahoma. p. 205. 
  13. Thomas, Jo (May 23, 1997). "McVeigh Defense Team Suggests Real Bomber Was Killed in Blast". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 
  14. Hamm, Mark S. In Bad Company. p. 228. 
  15. Hamm, Mark S. Apocalypse in Oklahoma. p. 240. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Taibbi, Matt (October 24, 2006). "The Low Post: Murrah Redux". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  17. "From KWTV: Breaking News: Oklahoma City Explosion". CNN Live. April 19, 1995. 
  18. "Local Coverage: Oklahoma City Explosion". KYVTV Channel 9. April 19, 1995. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Stickney, Brandon M. All-American Monster. p. 265. 
  20. "Nichols' Lawyers Say Government Leaked Information to the Media". Rocky Mountain News. September 20, 1997. Retrieved April 6, 2009. (Registration required (help)). 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Crothers, Lane. Rage on the Right. pp. 135–136. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Hamm, Mark S. Apocalypse in Oklahoma. p. 219. 
  23. Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History. p. 159. 
  24. Edwards, David; Ron Brynaert (December 28, 2006). "CNN: Is GOP Rep. 'fueling' Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theories?". TheRawStory.com. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  25. "Call to reopen Oklahoma bomb case". BBC News. March 2, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  26. Nolan, Clay (September 28, 2009). "Secret footage specifies chaos minutes after the Oklahoma City Bombings". The Oklahoman. Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  27. "Material missing from Okla. bombing tapes, lawyer says". USA Today. Associated Press. September 27, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  28. Witt, Howard (2006-12-10). "To him, Murrah blast isn't solved: Lawyer investigating 1995 Oklahoma City attack says loose ends indicate likelihood of neo-Nazi connections". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-12-14. [dead link]
  29. Schindler, John R. (2014-11-17). "Lingering OKBOMB Questions". The XX Committee. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 

Further reading

External links