TRAIL OF TERROR
Message Board posted by Junkyardblog
re: Padilla - John Doe 2 Sketch

The board is posted recent post to latest post order.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002
PADILLA UPDATE: This one's from Josh Marshall, and it's actually pretty funny. Turns out South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges is using Padilla's presence in a South Carolina brig as a excuse to stop the transportation of weapons-grade plutonium. It seems to be a Yucca Mountain-type manuever, aimed at keeping the stuff out of his state altogether. Marshall links this story to the antics of John C. Calhoun and to the Civil War. Good post.
Bryan Preston | 12:34 PM Comments [0]
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH, ARAFAT: An interesting passage from the Palestinian Declaration of Independence:
 

The State of Palestine herewith declares that it believes in the settlement of regional and international disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the U.N. Charter and resolutions. With prejudice to its natural right to defend its territorial integrity and independence, it therefore rejects the threat or use of force, violence and terrorism against its territorial integrity or political independence, as it also rejects their use against territorial integrity of other states.

It was signed by Palestinian leaders Nov 15, 1988--nearly 14 years and hundreds of war-crime bombers ago.

Bryan Preston | 12:05 AM Comments [0]

Monday, June 17, 2002
SO QUESTIONING THE FBI'S OFFICIAL handling of cases is now a suspect activity? Don't tell the editorial side of the Wall Street Journal,OpinionJournal, which published this story about the sorry state of the agency's most-wanted terrorist list. It's a sham:
 

Despite the president's talk of wanting the terrorists "dead or alive," the FBI's most-wanted list is an embarrassment. Shaikh Saiid, Osama's brother-in-law, hasn't made the list, even though he was included in a list of nine al Qaeda members handed out to soldiers searching bombed-out caves in Afghanistan, nor has Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, bin Laden's financial officer. The day after Christmas, Kenton Keith, a coalition spokesman in Pakistan, reportedly gave journalists a chart of al Qaeda's brain trust. It had 42 names, six of which were crossed out, having been killed in combat in Afghanistan. Four more have been captured. That leaves 32 high-ranking al Qaeda leaders. The FBI lists only 22 men. Shouldn't we be looking for all of the al Qaeda leadership?
Shouldn't we also consider top Talib Mullah Mohammed Omar a "most wanted" terrorist? The president promised to make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. Omar was last seen a few weeks ago crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan, shaking his fist and promising to disrupt the process of choosing Afghanistan's new government before heading south again.
 

Then there are the problems with the names on the list. The FBI still lists Mohammad Atef, even though a smart bomb caught him at home in November. He didn't survive the blast, but enough of his house did for U.S. forces to find the martyr videos. The bureau lists Osama bin Laden as a Saudi citizen, but the House of Saud revoked his citizenship years ago. Kuwait also disputes the FBI's claim that Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, now considered the top planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, is a Kuwaiti.
 

Meanwhile not one of the 22 wanted posters mentions the Sept. 11 attacks. Bin Laden, according to the FBI, is wanted in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa and also "is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."

The Journal is right to jump on this. As their story indicates, a list as shoddy as this says one thing to the world: We're not serious about catching terrorists. Couple that with our idiotic airport "security" measures, and we're really sending the wrong message: We're not serious, and we're not even trying to be.
 

(thanks to reader Chris Regan for the tip)

Bryan Preston | 11:35 PM Comments [0]

THE TALIBAN'S WEB SITE, Taliban Online, is owned by an American according to an alert reader. Hmmmm. Lending aid and comfort to the enemy, anyone? By the way, thanks to a whole bunch of bloggers and readers, we've nearly caught up on that poll. It's 51-48--come on, kaffirs, let's get over the top.
Bryan Preston | 6:21 PM Comments [0]
LAST CENTURY'S MEDIA is starting to report on the Padilla/John Doe #2 story, and predictably its coverage to date has been snarky and condescending. It's as though if you don't accept everything the government tells you about a given incident, well you just might as well strap on the tinfoil hat and be done with it. First up, the Wall Street Journal interviewed me last Friday, and I made clear that I have no "conspiracy theory," and in fact no theory at all, in the Padilla case. I'm not even sure if I think Padilla has any connection at all to the Oklahoma City bombing, but with his resemblance to the John Doe #2 sketches and other circumstantial evidence floating around out there, it's practically irresponsible not to ask questions. So the Journal publishes their story, and thankfully Free Republic has posted the entire text. It's a flippant story, and its title gives its aim away--"Conspiracy Buffs See Similarities Between Jose Padilla, John Doe 2." Sorry, but I'm no "conspiracy buff." Conspiracy theories have too many moving parts, rely on people to perform with superhuman competence to maintain secrecy, and studying them is mostly a waste of time. I even think regular magazines like Insight have gone too far in assessing motives to the various players in the OK City bombing investigation, but never mind that, I'm asking questions so I'm lumped in with conspiracy buffs.
 

But at least he quoted me accurately. I'll give him that much. And he linked me, but so far no one from their site has made it into mine. Links from NRO, Slate and Instapundit sent and are still sending torrents of traffic my way--the Journal hasn't even sent a trickle.
 

Fox News and CNN have also run stories today. I caught the one on Fox this afternoon, in which former Oklahoma State Rep. Charles Key was interviewed, and he made the case that the FBI could put this whole thing to bed by releasing the video surveillance tapes from the Murrah building, and the Subway shop where witness Joann Van Buren claims to have seen John Doe #2. I made a similar case, obliquely, in my initial detailed post on the issue, and it's true--the FBI has those tapes, and releasing them would either confirm another man in the company of Tim McVeigh and/or Terry Nichols or refute it. It would at the same time finish up any lingering questions about Jose Padilla. I guess that makes too much sense. The interviewer asked Mr. Key about the one John Doe #2 story that the FBI has been able to refute, parroted the FBI line that John Doe #2 likely never existed, but never followed up on any of the dozens of other witness sightings. That's just lazy reporting.
 

You can probably tell I'm a bit annoyed about this, though hardly surprised. It just seems to me that, with all its resources and fancy J-school grads, the big media could treat a fairly serious story with a fair amount of seriousness. I guess that's just beyond them.
Bryan Preston | 6:00 PM Comments [1]

WOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!
Bryan Preston | 12:33 PM Comments [0]
Sunday, June 16, 2002
MORE ABOUT THE MIDDLE EASTERN CONNECTION TO OKLAHOMA CITY: Again, from Insight Magazine:
 

As if anticipating new developments on the terrorism front, CIA Director Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee in unusually frank testimony on March 19 that the United States now is actively examining potential Iraqi and Iranian involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
 

"As to where we are in [investigating] Sept. 11, the jury's out," Tenet told senators. "And it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship, whether Iranian or Iraqi, and we'll see where the evidence takes us."
 

The evidence could take the CIA and the White House to both Middle Eastern states, as Tenet made clear. "The distinctions between Sunni and Shia [Islam] that have traditionally divided terrorist groups are not distinctions you should make anymore because there is a common interest against the United States and its allies in this region, and they will seek capability wherever they can get it," he said. Saddam Hussein and his governing Baathist elite are predominantly Sunni, while neighboring Iran is majority Shiite. Both have helped Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, U.S. counterterrorism officials now believe.

The only thing missing here is a reference to Wahhabism, another offshoot of Islam with dangerous tendencies, but it's clear that pursuing a Middle Eastern connection to McVeigh and Nichols is no longer the exclusive territory of cranks and misfits.

Bryan Preston | 11:58 PM Comments [2]

PADILLA UPDATE: NewsMax has become the first mainstream site to publish a story covering the possible link between Jose Padilla and John Doe #2, and for the most part offers up the ideas already present here and on John Berger's site. But, here's a new piece of the puzzle:
 

Larry Johnson, a former senior State Department counterterrorism official, says witnesses place al Qaeda members at the same Oklahoma motel where the 1995 bomb plot was hatched.
 

Then there's last month's little noticed but potentially devastating report in Insight Magazine, which revealed that Abdul Hakim Murad, a key member of the Philippine cell, actually confessed to the FBI that al Qaeda was behind the 1995 bombing just hours after it happened.
 

Remember, it was the Philippine cell led by Ramzi Yusuf that masterminded the never-completed terror attack involving a dozen US airliners, and that same Ramzi Yusuf is now serving life in prison for leading the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Another dot, another possible connection.
 

Here's the relevant passage of Insight's story:
 

The video interrogation (of Edward Angeles who according to Insight's story was working as a double-agent for the Philippine government as an informant on Abu Sayyaf activities, an al Qaida cell he had helped establish) linking Nichols to Yousef, bin Laden and Iraq initially was obtained by Stephen Jones, the defense attorney who represented convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But at the insistence of federal prosecutors, trial judge Richard P. Matsch refused to admit it into evidence.
 

The judge also refused to admit into evidence the testimony of Yousef coconspirator Abdul Hakim Murad, who was a federal prisoner at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Murad was awaiting trial for his part in Project Bojinka, a plot hatched up by Yousef to blow up 11 U.S. 747 jetliners over the Pacific Ocean in 1995. On the day of the Oklahoma City bombing he told his jailers that Yousef had orchestrated the plot.
 

"Why should Murad be believed?" Johnston asks rhetorically. "For one thing, Murad made his 'confession' voluntarily and spontaneously. Most important, Murad tied Ramzi Yousef to the Oklahoma City bombing long before Terry Nichols was publicly identified as a suspect."


Here is Elmina's deathbed confession, in which she details her huband's alleged meetings with Ramzi Yusuf and an American called "Terry" or "the Farmer."
 

Insight's reporting on the Oklahoma City bombing goes much further into conspiracy-land than I'm comfortable with, but the facts they present are well sourced.
Bryan Preston | 11:19 PM Comments [0]

THE TALIBAN VS THE KAFFIRS POLL: Thanks to you (and the readers of a couple dozen other sites), we're gaining ground in the Taliban web site's poll of who'll win the war. When I first found it this afternoon, thanks to a reader, it was 63% for the Taliban, 36% for us, and 1% undecided. Now it's 55-45-1, so we're still ten points down but closing fast. If you haven't voted, why not head on over and vote now? We drove 'em from Afghanistan, now let's drive 'em crazy on their own web turf.
Bryan Preston | 10:46 PM Comments [0]
PADILLA UPDATE: John Berger's done it again, this time placing Tim McVeigh in South Florida in 1993, coinciding with Jose Padilla's time of residence there, and Padilla's career working at a local Taco Bell. This is far, far from a "smoking gun," but does get the two in the same area a couple of years before the OK City bombing.
Bryan Preston | 10:04 PM Comments [0]
PADILLA UPDATE: Extremely alert reader Chris Regan found this timeline of Jose Padilla's movements and whereabouts on FreeRepublic.com:
 

1993 – Sunrise, FL – end of 1 yr supervised release on 8/4/93
 

1993 – FL – converted to Islam after release
 

1993 - 1998 Lauderhill, FL – moved in with then-girlfriend Cherie Marie Stulz to Inverrary Club Apartments
 

1995 – Pembroke Pines, FL – studied Islam at Darul Uloom Institute mosque, took Sat. morning courses for 3-6 months using the name “Ibrahim” until the “extremely observant Muslim” “disappeared”
 

1996 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Married Stulz at Courthouse on 1/2/96, where he signed his name as simply “Ibrahim”
 

1996 – FL – driver’s license suspended
 

1997 – FL – speeding conviction
 

1998 – FL – left United States
 

1998 – FL – left United States for good


 

It's well sourced, and indicates that in 1995 he "disappeared." We need to know when in 1995 he disappeared, and if that mosque has any knowledge of his whereabouts in April of 1995.

Bryan Preston | 3:05 PM Comments [0]

FOR THOSE OF YOU who thought my National Review piece was off the mark, President Bush seems to see things my way. Covert action is but one of many tools at our disposal, and shouldn't be discounted, if only for the psychological effect they can have on Saddam.
 

As for speculation regarding Saddam's WMD programs, the Kurds also see things my way, and having been on the receiving end of Saddam's violence, they would know.
Bryan Preston | 2:28 PM Comments [0]

NEW BLOG IN THE YARD: At the top of the list at the left, just under the JunkYardSwag link, is Who is John Doe No. 2?. John Berger is compiling the latest up-to-date information there, from this site, his own work and from news media reports. It's pretty comprehensive, and recommended.
Bryan Preston | 1:59 PM Comments [0]
PADILLA UPDATE: An alleged crony of his has been arrested in Florida. And this associate has ties to the BIF, which has possible ties to Terry Nichols.
 

(Thanks to John Horne and John Berger for the tip)
Bryan Preston | 1:52 PM Comments [0]

ISLAMIC WEBSURFING: Sorry the lack of posting for the last couple of days. I've had non-cyber pursuits keeping me busy. Here's an Islamic souvenir hunt for you: First, go to this site, an apparently middle-of-the road magazine for the Muslim believer called Al-Islam. Now, go to this site, which is the Taliban's official web presence. Yes, they have one, and it's a doozy of a site, full of language like "kafir" to describe us, and it makes some propaganda mileage out of that idiotic artist's coalitition agains the war. Nice going, Ed Asner--you're an apologist for the Taliban and Usama bin Laden now. Anyway, on the Taliban's site follow the link for "Foto Gallery." It's below the map, about center. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, and you'll see a very interesting link for photo submissions...
 

So is the first site I directed you to so moderate? And who runs it? Their site host is Egyptian.
 

(by the way, there's a poll at the top of that Taliban site that demands a serious Freeping...)
Bryan Preston | 1:16 PM Comments [2]

Saturday, June 15, 2002
IDIOTARIANS of the world, unite!
Bryan Preston | 12:49 AM Comments [8]
THE FIRST SHOTS? The US wants an unnamed Iraqi UN official booted from the country, using diplomatic-speak to accuse that official of espionage.
Bryan Preston | 12:40 AM Comments [0]
Friday, June 14, 2002
PADILLA UPDATE: John Berger, who's now become an on-the-street sleuth in the JD#2/Padilla case, has turned up a few more pieces of the puzzle:
 

Six Degrees Of Jose Padilla
 

The story so far: Jose Padilla looks like the semi-mythical third suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing, John Doe No. 2. Since Padilla is a native of Chicago and was flying to that city when he was arrested, I've posited that Chicago is the common denominator. Specifically, my last update looked at the Benevolence International Foundation, which was based in the Chicago area and was recently shut down by the federal government, which claims BIF is a front to fund al Qaeda terrorist operations.
 

I was able to sketch some possible connections between BIF and Terry Nichols. What we have been missing so far is a connection between BIF and Jose Padilla, aka Abdullah al Muhajir.
 

Here's a promising possibility. According to a Miami Herald article dated Dec. 16, 2001, "Benevolence International registered with the U.S. government as a charity in 1992 and opened its first office on University Dive in Plantation in early 1993, according to charity officials and public records. The charity relocated to Palos Hills in May 1993." Plantation is about 15 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale, where Padilla lived at worked at that time. According to this Web site, whose information I have been unable
to verify as yet, the chapter actually remained open as a branch office until 1994.
 

Even if the BIF Florida offices closed in 1993, it still coincides with Padilla's decision to seek information about Islam, which AP dates to late 1992. The mosque he later studied is alleged to have ties with the Holy Land Foundation, another Islamic charity targeted by the government for its alleged support of al Qaeda and wash shut down around the same time as BIF.
 

So Padilla potentially had access to BIF in 1992, three years before OK City. He was seeking information about Islam at the same time BIF was operating in the area where he lived. Alleged BIF conspirators identified by the government include Wali Khan Amid Shah, whom an independent journalist alleges met with Terry Nichols in the early 1990s. The potential for a connection exists. Now let's just hope we're not playing a more sinister version of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."


I'm inclined to agree that, to the extent that this is a story, Chicago seems to be its axis. Padilla is from there and was arrested there, and seems to have used an address there as a residence even while actually living in South Florida. And we can demonstrate tenuous connections between Terry Nichols and this alleged terrorist front organization, the BIF. And that organization was in the same town as our Mr. Padilla in South Florida, who was actively seeking connections and information in the world of radical Islam. Hmmmmm. Probably another coincidence.

Bryan Preston | 4:50 PM Comments [4]

WELCOME to you folks coming in from Reason. I guess that makes it official: JunkYardBlog has achieved world hegemony. And years ahead of schedule.
Bryan Preston | 1:28 PM Comments [2]
THERE IS A BIT MORE about JD#2/Jose Padilla here. Can't say I like the site's title, and by his own admission he's a bit less circumspect than I am, but he's doggedly pursuing the story and offers a bit on the Chicago connection. I've got some feelers out in that direction too.
Bryan Preston | 9:18 AM Comments [0]
A NEW PLANET: This has absolutely nothing to do with JD#2, but it's cool nonetheless: astronomers have found a new solar system, with a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting the star at about Jupiter's distance from our own sun. In our solar system, Jupiter plays the role of planetary vacuum, gravitationally sweeping up debris that could otherwise slam into us. This other system's Jupiter-like counterpart could be doing the same thing in its own neighborhood, raising somewhat the possibility of life beyond our solar system.
Bryan Preston | 9:10 AM Comments [2]
THE GHOSTS OF TERRORISTS PAST: Last time we looked at Jose Padilla’s rather violent life, and came to the conclusion that you can’t really come to a conclusion. Circumstantially, the case for him being John Doe #2 is pretty good. He’s a known radical Islamic interested in and trained for bomb making. He was free and roaming the United States from the time he left jail in 1993 to 1997 or ’98, at which time he headed for the Middle East, to live in Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was during that time that he met up with al Qaida for training. What’s less clear is when he first became involved with them. In the mid-90’s, Abdullah al Muhajir was a street punk—how did he afford those first trips abroad?
 

But how about the known Oklahoma City bombers? Is it possible to connect Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols to any Middle Eastern terror groups, let alone al Qaida?
 

There are some people in the Pentagon who think such a connection exists:
 

McVeigh's ghost
 

Some dismiss it as being akin to Elvis sightings, but a few top Defense officials think Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was an Iraqi agent. The theory stems from a never-before-reported allegation that McVeigh had allegedly collected Iraqi telephone numbers. Why haven't we heard this before about the case of the executed McVeigh? Conspiracy theorists in the Pentagon think it's part of a coverup.

 

I’ll have more to say about McVeigh and some Iraqi friends later.
 

In my last post, I mentioned Terry Nichols’ interesting travels to the Philippines—about 4 times a year between 1991 and 1995, speculating that Nichols was there to meet with Ramzi Yusuf, who was at that time plotting to blow up US airliners, and who would later be convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. There is a witness, Edward Angeles, who claims to have attended a meeting with Yusuf and a man fitting Nichols’ description:
 

Angeles was a member of Abu Sayyef, a local Muslim faction responsible for kidnappings and bombings in the Philippines. But in 1994 Angeles suddenly switched sides and surfaced as a star witness for the Philippine government.
 

At a news conference the Philippine National Police paraded Angeles in front of reporters and credited him with unmasking Filipino and Arab terrorists. Nichols' former defense attorney, Stephen Jones, says his investigators interviewed Angeles a year after that news conference. "At first he told the Philippine police, then us, that he didn't know Terry Nichols' name and that he was described as the farmer. He was an American from the Midwest, and drew a sketch that resembled Nichols. We were satisfied it was the same person, and he said he saw Nichols meeting with Ramzi Yusuf, gave us the location, and described two other people present."
 

Jones says the topic of the meeting was explosives, "They were talking about bombs and explosives and Nichols was seeking bombs and advice."

 

There’s more:
 

Documents from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration suggest Nichols had clandestine meetings with known terrorists from Pakistan, Iran, and other Arab nations. The author of the documents and other officials refused to discuss their report.


This same story says that Philippine police doubt whether Nichols ever met with Yusuf, and Nichols’ current defense attorneys offer a similar line. But the question remains: If Nichols wasn’t meeting with Yusuf, who was? Is Angeles making it up? If so, why? The story says that Philippine police do question Angeles’ credibility, but doesn’t offer a reason. This also leaves open to question the nature of Nichols’ visits to the Philippines. What took him there four times a year for the four years leading up to 1995? It’s tantalizing to think that Nichols might be that easily connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, and therefore to a Middle Eastern arm of the Oklahoma City bombing.
 

But what about McVeigh? Several witnesses place him within roughly a 300 mile radius of Oklahoma City in the days leading up to the bombing, and several of those put him in the company of the mysterious John Doe #2. Still others add even more characters around him, and one witness made eye contact with such a disturbing man a few minutes after the explosion:
 

At approximately 9:05 a.m., another witness who works several blocks south of the Murrah Building is walking from her parking spot at the Myriad Gardens through the Medallion Hotel to her office when the bomb goes off, shattering glass inside the hotel. Going outside, she begins crossing Robinson and is on the median strip about to continue across the street when a brown Chevrolet truck careens around the corner at a high rate of speed and nearly runs her down. The pickup truck passes just a few feet from her and she gets a very close look at the driver. She later told THE NEW AMERICAN that she was as much startled by the driver’s facial expression as by the near miss with death. As she made eye contact with him, she was struck by the fact that his face was “full of hate and anger” while everyone else on the street looked scared and confused. “I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told THE NEW AMERICAN.


As always, there’s more:
 

Based on the FBI’s John Doe No. 2 sketch and the broadcasts of the APB on the possible Mideast males in the brown pickup truck, several residents in Oklahoma City pointed to a former Iraqi soldier who had recently arrived in the United States as a “refugee” and who was living in the area. After observing the Iraqi at his residence and place of employment and checking with eyewitnesses who had provided testimony to the FBI on suspects seen at or near the Murrah Building on the morning of the explosion, investigators for NBC’s television affiliate in Oklahoma City, KFOR, felt that they might have found the phantom John Doe who had eluded the global dragnet.
In June 1995 KFOR began running a series of broadcasts featuring video clips of their surveillance of the Iraqi they described as the “possible John Doe No. 2.” KFOR was careful to digitally blur the man’s face and not to mention his name during the broadcasts, which included on-camera testimony from several key witnesses who connected him to McVeigh, the Ryder truck, and the brown pickup. One of the witnesses was the one mentioned above who was nearly run down by the brown pickup a few minutes after the blast. In a KFOR interview, she identified the Iraqi as the man driving the speeding vehicle. She also confirmed this in an interview with THE NEW AMERICAN.
On August 24, 1995, Oklahoma resident Al Hussaini Hussain filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against KFOR, charging that the news station had falsely accused him of being John Doe No. 2. After the lawsuit was filed, KFOR did not run any further stories into a possible “Iraqi connection” with the bombing.

 

And the FBI apparently dropped any investigation into a possible Iraqi angle at the same time, and never interviewed Hussain or his employer or anyone who worked with him.
 

Still, all this could be mere coincidence. Nichols happened to travel to the Philippines at a time when a soon-to-be infamous bomber happened to be there. Jose Padilla/Abdullah al Muhajir just happens to be a dead ringer for the FBI’s composite sketches of John Doe #2, whom several witnesses just happen to place alongside Tim McVeigh shortly before and after the 1995 bombing. And Padilla/Muhajir just happened to be free from jail, a recent convert to a radical form of Islam, and just happened to turn up this year hoping to build an ever bigger bomb than the one used in Oklahoma City. It could all have just happened this way—a bunch of dots with no real lines to connect them.
 

Well, here’s another connection that could be a coincidence:
 

Larry Johnson, the former deputy director of the State Department's office on counterterrorism, told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly Tuesday that the paths of 9-11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Zacarias Moussaoui crossed on more than one occasion with that of John Doe No. 2, the name given to the man witnesses say helped Timothy McVeigh carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.


The rest, I’ll just quote at length:
 

Johnson, along with a growing contingent of independent probers, believes that John Doe No. 2 is actually Hussain Hashim Alhussaini, a former member of Iraq's elite Republican Guard.
"The thing that really concerns me relative to 9-11 [is that] when he left Oklahoma around 1996 and 1997, he went to work at Logan Airport in Boston," Johnson told O'Reilly. "We don't know where he is now."
As bizarre as the Logan Airport tie-in may seem, the coincidences don't end there, according to Johnson.
"The motel in Oklahoma City where the April [1995] bombing was planned and executed - that same motel figures in [the travel of] two of the 9-11 hijackers and Zacarias Moussaoui," he told O'Reilly.
The al-Qaeda trio stayed at the 1995 bombers' motel just five weeks before the 9-11 attacks, Johnson said.
"I've spoken to the owner of the motel," the anti-terror prober said. "After the 9-11 attacks he called the FBI, the FBI came out and interviewed him - and he identified Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Zacarias Moussauoi."
Atta, Al-Shehhi and Moussauoi said they were planning on enrolling in a local flight school, the motel owner told the one-time State Department prober.


There you have your possible tie to Iraq: If John Doe #2 existed, he might be our new friend Abdullah al Muhajir, or he might this other fellow Hussain Hashim Alhussaini. A Google search turned up no pictures of him, and the last people that tried to get pictures of him got sued for several million dollars, so I’m not going anywhere near that. Besides, no one even knows where he is.
 

There’s more—lots more—about McVeigh’s possible Iraqi friends here, including this interesting section:
 

Perhaps the most intriguing statements she (Oklahoma City TV station KFOR reporter Jayna Davis—more about her story here) collected came from a host of staff members at a motel near downtown Oklahoma City. They reported seeing McVeigh with a number of Middle Eastern men at the site in the months preceding the bombing. Using KFOR's photos, those men were identified as Samara employees. Alhussaini was included in that group. The motel witnesses also said they saw several of the Iraqis moving large barrels around in the back of an old white truck. The barrels, they alleged, emanated a strong smell of diesel fuel, one of the key ingredients used in the Oklahoma City bomb. Davis also discovered that the mysterious brown Chevy pickup was impounded by the FBI on April 27, 1995. The pickup had been abandoned in an apartment building lot. According to the police report, the truck had been stripped of its license plate, inspection tag and all its vehicle identification numbers. It also was spray-painted yellow, but the original color was listed as brown. One resident at the complex told the FBI the driver was "clean-shaven, with an olive complexion, dark, wavy hair and broad shoulders," in his late 20s or early 30s and of Middle Eastern descent.


Again, that description, the seeming connection to McVeigh, and a dead end for the FBI’s investigation.
 

Being that’s it’s about 1 am, that’s where I’m going to leave it for now. It seems to me that, at the very least, John Doe #2 can no longer be dismissed as witness confusion. He seems to have been a real actor or even actors in this story, and one or more of McVeigh and Nichols’ cohorts that got away back in 1995.
 

I’ve offered up a whole bunch of facts, ideas and conjectures over the last few days, mostly due to the dogged work of a few dedicated strangers who are as intrigued about this whole thing as I am. Here’s one more, from another reader, and while it’s as inconclusive as everything else, it’s also as interesting as everything else. It’s another side-by-side comparison of JD#2 and Jose Padilla, this time noting what appears to be a scar on each man’s face. Here’s what the photo compiler has to say about it:
 

In this jpg file I altered Jose Padilla's hairline a tiny bit just to see what he would look like and I put two small lines under the eyes of John Doe #2. Everything else is exactly as the originals. I've put circles around the scars to point them out.




 

I have verified by examining originals of these photos here and here that he didn’t add the apparent marks on the left cheek of each image. But I’m sure they’re just another coincidence.
 

THANKS AGAIN to Lakefxdan, Chris Regan, John Berger, Jason Krall, Tom Hoffman for the image, Ritchey Ruff, Mark C. and anyone else my sleepy brain has decided not to bring up
 

Bryan Preston | 1:41 AM Comments [1]

Thursday, June 13, 2002
STILL LOOKING INTO McVEIGH'S POSSIBLE IRAQ CONNECTION, but for now this search is starting to cost money. I've set up a little store called JunkYardSwag, offering among other things a John Doe #2 frisbee thingy. Check it out--all proceeds go to the betterment of JunkYardBlog World Headquarters, currently a three-year-old desktop machine.
Bryan Preston | 9:54 PM Comments [0]
THIS HUMBLE BLOG that didn't quite average 200 hits per day a week ago is currently #10 on Blogdex, to which I can only say "Thank you." To all the sites who've linked me this week, and most importantly to the emailers and commentors who've added to the Muhajir/Padilla story, thank you. You're the engine here.
Bryan Preston | 6:50 PM Comments [1]
WELCOME to you folks coming in from The Village Voice. There's more to see here than just the main attraction, so please look around and get comfy.
Bryan Preston | 3:42 PM Comments [0]
CHI-COM FOOLERY: You can't make make this stuff up, er, unless you're The Onion or something.
Bryan Preston | 3:36 PM Comments [2]
MORE ON MUHAJIR from NewsMax:
 

Al Muhajir had been out of the country since 1998. Though he was unemployed, somehow he was able to afford travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan. U.S. officials say they have proof that he spent much of that time training at al-Qaeda camps. His specialty was wiring bombs, and he did some research on radiological material, investigators said.

He's also being a very uncooperative witness:
 

"He wouldn't even admit he had been in Afghanistan," one official said. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a trip to help lower the temperature in the dispute between India and Pakistan, said earlier that the United States didn't necessarily want to prosecute the suspect, just find out "what he knows." That might not prove so easy.
 

U.S. investigators consider the suspect a particularly hard nut to crack with a lengthy criminal history, including murder.

 

I've also been distilling some tips leading to McVeigh and a possible Iraqi connection. More to come...

Bryan Preston | 3:33 PM Comments [2]

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "John Ritter is getting another TV show over there at ABC. And now they're saying that George Bush knew about this last summer and failed to act on it."
- David Letterman

Bryan Preston | 10:09 AM Comments [0]
TRACKING A TERRORIST: Before getting into what will probably be my longest post ever, I want to say a few things. First, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I think Oliver Stone is a paranoid crank, as are most people who traffic in his sort of ideas. I’m very skeptical by nature, and it takes a great deal of evidence to convince me that any theory has weight, and the more complicated the theory, the more proof I demand. I also want to say that I’m not putting forth a theory about the possible relationship between John Doe #2 and Jose Padilla—I’m just sifting evidence and presenting it together here, nothing more. Whatever conclusions you draw are yours alone, and I won’t be held responsible for them. So get yourself something to drink and maybe a snack—you’ve got a long, complicated bit of reading ahead of you.
 

The terrorist atrocity of April 19, 1995 was to that point the worst act of mass murder ever committed on American soil. At least two men, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, conspired and detonated a fertilizer bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, destroying the building and killing 168 people, including 19 children. According to several witnesses, McVeigh and Nichols were joined in their travels shortly before the bombing by a third man, described as shorter than the other two, dark haired, muscular and with an olive complexion. Some described him as Middle Eastern, others, Italian, or simply “swarthy.” This description of events comes from eyewitness Joann Van Buren, who worked at a Subway sandwich shop that McVeigh, Nichols and possibly the third man stopped at on April 18. They were driving a yellow Ryder truck, and Van Buren remembers them because McVeigh wanted to break a $50 to buy lunch. She says McVeigh was accompanied by two men, Terry Nichols and a man fitting the description of John Doe #2. She told the FBI her story, but she wasn’t the only witness:
 

Luckily, the Subway shop actually had a video camera recording that day's events. When Van Buren contacted the FBI, agents interviewed everyone working in the shop on April 18. And when they were done, they confiscated the video recorded that day.
But if that tape showed a third co-conspirator with McVeigh and Nichols, no one outside the FBI can say. No one beyond the agency ever saw it. In the waning days of Nichols' trial, his defense attorneys discovered the details of Van Buren's story -- which had only been described in generic terms in the FBI's report, omitting her contention that two men accompanied McVeigh -- along with information contained in some 43,000 other "lead sheets" that the FBI until then had failed to turn over to them.

So it’s likely that if Padilla, about whom we’ll learn more later, resembles John Doe #2 as much as many think he does, the FBI has a tape of him with McVeigh in the Subway shop on April 18, 1995.
 

There are other witnesses who claim to have seen a third man with Nichols and McVeigh. Local waffle shop owner Darvin Bates hired a man fitting JD #2’s profile about a month after the bombing. The man’s name was difficult to pronounce, so he told Bates to call him “John.” (Remember that—difficult name, answered to “John” instead.) “John” worked for Bates for three days, took a $90 pay advance on the third day and never returned to work. He also claimed to be from Kingman, AZ, where McVeigh lived during the bombing’s planning phase.
Here’s the full story.
 

Many other witnesses insist that McVeigh traveled in the company of one or more men in addition to Nichols, and several described one of these men as shorter than McVeigh, dark haired, dark complexion. These witnesses place John Doe #2 with McVeigh at the Ryder rental office where he acquired the truck, at local restaurants, and even fleeing the scene of the bombing itself. None of these witnesses has ever been impeached or refuted.
 

For its part, the FBI doesn’t believe in John Doe #2:
 

The FBI has maintained that coincidence is the best way to explain John Doe No. 2, whose character sketch was drawn mainly from the account of an eyewitness at the Junction City shop where the Ryder truck was rented. That witness, the FBI says, mixed up his recollections and mistakenly identified a man who came in the next day to rent a truck -- a 23-year-old soldier named Todd Bunting -- as an accomplice of McVeigh's. Bunting, who was cleared of any connection to the crime, vaguely resembled the composite drawing and wore clothes similar to those in the drawing, including a Carolina Panthers ball cap.


(Remember that ball cap—it’ll pop up again when we discuss Jose Padilla.)
 

As the Salon article states, it’s not too difficult to understand why the FBI eventually dropped its investigation into John Doe #2’s identity. It had McVeigh in hand within hours of the bombing and Nichols not much later. Agents interviewed a staggering 35,000 witnesses, very few of whom actually delivered any substantive leads. John Doe #2 could be explained away as a phantom, the result of witness confusion, and unnecessary to explain the crime. McVeigh and Nichols had had a long relationship, first in the Army and later in civilian life. They had the expertise to build the bomb, the motivation (revenge for Waco), and were caught with all the evidence necessary for conviction. So John Doe #2 went down the memory hole, only to resurface once in a while, such as serving as a foil for the defense lawyers during McVeigh’s and Nichols’ trials. Further, McVeigh adamantly denied John Doe #2’s existence throughout, even on his federally-mandated death bed.
 

McVeigh’s defense attorney, Stephen Jones, never accepted the idea that JD #2 was a mere phantom:
 

Jones believes McVeigh had substantial motive to lie about the involvement of others: For one, it covers the tracks of his cohorts, and it heightens his own role in the drama. Certainly "American Terrorist" [a journalistic account of the bombing written by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck]
captures McVeigh's desire for martyrdom -- he manipulated his appeals to expedite his execution -- and admitting anyone else into the scenario would certainly diminish his starring role.
Jones also told reporters that McVeigh failed a lie-detector test when asked about John Doe No. 2. And McVeigh, he says, frequently covered up any traces of potential co-conspirators. Once he insisted he had not accompanied Nichols to a farm co-op to buy ammonium nitrate, but after learning that a clerk at the store identified Nichols and said there was a second man with him, McVeigh flip-flopped, telling Jones he had been the man there after all. The clerk, on the other hand, insisted that it hadn't been McVeigh.
But when Jones' defense team attempted to track down Doe No. 2, it ran into the same dead ends as the FBI. Nonetheless, Jones himself came to believe McVeigh was associated with a gang of white supremacists operating out of an enclave in rural Missouri called Elohim City.

 

So McVeigh was a megalomaniac who lied about the bombing to enhance his own role, even to his own defense attorney, rendering his denials about John Doe #2 suspect.
 

Some are liable to give new weight to McVeigh’s Gulf War service. I don’t. He apparently arrived with his unit in January 1991. Though he served in Saudi Arabia during that war, he spent his time in a Bradley fighting vehicle, getting his weapons ready for the ground campaign, which began on February 24, 1991. He was in the right country to contact terror groups such as al Qaida, and as an anti-government activist he had the motive, but it’s very unlikely he ever had the opportunity—military personnel in the Gulf War lived sequestered lives on US bases, rarely going outside except during the combat phase itself. Additionally, McVeigh’s Saudi service pre-dates Usama bin Laden’s rise to prominence as the world’s leading terrorist. He was already known to a few within the government, but hadn’t yet declared his jihad against America and probably wouldn’t have been notorious enough for McVeigh to seek him out.
 

So what do we have here? Many witnesses placing a man fitting a single description with McVeigh and Nichols around Oklahoma City in the days leading up to the bombing, and the moments after. That man, who came to be known as John Doe #2, was never apprehended, and the FBI eventually gave up on him, as all leads to him turned into dead ends. But the FBI admitted bungling the case last year, failing to turn mountains of documentary evidence over to the defense teams. McVeigh’s execution was postponed a month as a result. So it’s not inconceivable that the FBI bungled the search for John Doe #2, or at least was unable to find enough evidence leading directly to him. It’s also not inconceivable that John Doe #2 never existed at all. Humans make notoriously unreliable eye witnesses, often confusing details of appearance, place, dates and times to the point where their testimony is worthless. The one piece of evidence which could incontrovertibly prove or disprove the existence of John Doe #2 is the security camera tape from the Subway shop, and that’s been in the FBI’s hands since 1995.
 

As for Jose Padilla, the 31-year-old gangbanger has led a full life, mostly on the business end of the law. He’s been a hood since the mid-80’s, when he lived in Chicago and joined a street gang there. During that time he also claimed a Florida residence, and seems to have moved back to Florida around 1990. In 1992 he was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm, a crime that sent him to Broward County Jail. He spent ten months there, where was also convicted of battery on a jail officer and resisting without violence. It was during this jail stint that Padilla converted to Islam, changing his name to Abdullah al Muhajir (though he apparently went by “Ibrahim” circa 1995). Referring back to the John Doe #2 witnesses, waffle store owner Darvin Bates hired a man fitting Mujahir’s description a month after the 1995 bombing, a man with a difficult name who went by the nickname “John.” Abdullah al Muhajir fits the description of a difficult name, as does “Ibrahim” to most of us Southerners.
As for “John,” it could be an Anglicized form of “Jose” (Muhajir’s birth name, and though it’s usually rendered “Joe” or “Joseph”), or a sick comic reference to his status as John Doe #2. I personally don’t think that if “John” was in fact John Doe #2 he would go by the pseudonym “John”—it’s too risky. But I offer it up for study.
 

Muhajir got out of jail in Florida in 1993, and apparently lived in Florida until 1998. At that time, Muhajir began his world travels, jetting to the Middle East. He lived in Cairo but often traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, known by that time as havens for Usama bin Laden and his al Qaida terror network. During these trips, he allegedly became acquainted with top al Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah, as well as bomb-making techniques. Between 1998 and May 8, 2002, Muhajir apparently traveled to the United States at least twice, and was picked up on suspicion of planning to build and detonate a “dirty bomb” on US soil. It’s pertinent at this point to ask a question: On his first few trips, where did Muhajir’s travel money come from? I haven’t seen anything to answer that question, but it’s an important one, as it may shed light on when and where Mujahir became an al Qaida operative. We do know that, when arrested on May 8, he was traveling through Zurich and had $10,000 in cash with him, which was most likely al Qaida money.
 

Piecing the timeline together, Muhajir, former gangbanger and now Islamic extremist, was free and living in Florida in 1995, not Kingman, AZ as “John” claimed. But claiming Kingman as his residence could have been a lie, or another hint that he was a wanted man. Returning to the ball cap mentioned by several witnesses as John Doe #2’s headgear, the FBI believes that it was a Carolina Panthers cap. It featured a flame design that ran around the cap’s sides. None of the Panthers’ current caps resemble John Doe #2’s cap, but designs change annually, so it’s possible that their caps did feature the flame design in 1995 or earlier. The Jacksonville Jaguars (Mujahir lived in South Florida during this period) don’t currently sell a cap with a flame design, but they do sell one with a blue wave on one side that could be mistaken for a flame. Also, like Carolina, they might have offered a flame cap in 1995 or earlier—I can’t find out via the web what their cap designs looked like that far back.
 

Mujahir’s birth name is Jose Padilla. An interesting side note is that Padilla is also the name of one of Terry Nichols’ wives—Lana Padilla. Had Padilla been her maiden name, it would be an amazing tie of sorts to Jose Padilla. Turns out, though, that Padilla is the name she took from her third or fourth husband, Robert Padilla. I haven’t found anything, other than an incredible coincidence, tying Robert Padilla to Jose Padilla. Lana Padilla later wrote a book in which she makes this startling claim:
 

In her new book, By Blood Betrayed: My Life With Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, Lana Padilla recounts an incident which occurred on November 22, 1994. Terry Nichols had just spent two weeks at her home in Las Vegas visiting Josh. Padilla explains that she had allowed him to stay there because she believed him to be broke. Besides, he was rarely underfoot since he and Josh were usually "doing 'guy' things ... like hunting, fishing, and occasionally going to Kingman [Arizona] to visit Tim [McVeigh] and other ex-Army buddies."
On that day, Padilla had driven Nichols to Las Vegas' McCarran Airport for a flight to Los Angeles and a final destination of Cebu City in the Philippines. Nichols gave her a folded brown paper bag and told her, "If I'm not back in sixty days, open it and follow the instructions." Those ominous words, together with Nichols' melancholic behavior and Josh's reaction as they drove away from the airport, were cause for alarm. "I'm never going to see my dad again," Josh sobbed.
Sure that Nichols must be contemplating suicide, she opened the package. It contained a sealed letter to Timothy McVeigh's sister Jennifer, Nichols' life insurance policy, a key chain with nearly a dozen keys, and two hand-written lists of things for Padilla to "Read and Do Immediately."
On the "Do" list were instructions to find a plastic bag that had been hidden behind a drawer in Padilla's kitchen. Following Nichols' directions, an astonished Padilla found a plastic bag stuffed with $20,000 in twenties and hundreds. Nichols' list also referred to a storage unit rented under the alias of Ted Parker which would yield even more surprises: "... wigs, masks, panty hose, freeze-dried food, and various gold coins ... along with gold bars and silver bullion stacked neatly in boxes. There were also some small green stones that appeared to be jade. I estimated at least $60,000 street value in precious metals!"


The money and so forth are interesting, but even more so is Nichols’ destination—Cebu City, Philippines. The Philippines are plagued by a separatist group known as Abu Sayyaf, a known al Qaida cell that most recently kidnapped and murdered an American missionary. It’s also worth noting that Nichols went to such steps as to plan for his own death while traveling in the Philippines. Why?
 

According to the Manila Kabiyan newspaper, Nichols was in the Philippines to meet with Ramzi Yusuf, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1994, when Nichols traveled to the Philippines, Yusuf was in the Philippines plotting to blow up a dozen US airlines flying international routes. This was a year before the Oklahoma City bombing, and Nichols could have been worried that such dangerous characters might decided he was no longer useful and either kidnap or kill him. But there is another possible explanation for Nichols’ trip to the Philippines—his wife of the time, Marife, was a “mail order bride” from the Philippines, and it’s possible that Nichols was traveling there to visit extended family. Weakening that argument, Marife apparently didn’t accompany him on any of his four annual trips to the Philippines between 1991 and 1995—roughly 16 trips. And if he was visiting family, why the cloak and dagger act? Perhaps paranoia—he was known to suffer from depression. There’s also the question of Nichols’ funding source. It could be the loot left in storage, which begs the obvious question: Where did that come from? Some speculate that it was the proceeds from bank robberies committed by a white supremacist gang during those years, and in which Nichols and McVeigh allegedly took part. But neither man has ever been tied to those robberies, while the gang itself have all been arrested and convicted. Others, including Lana Padilla, speculate that Nichols’ real estate deals may account for the money.
 

So Terry Nichols might have been connected to al Qaida as early as 1994. Mujahir isn’t known to have been connected with al Qaida until 1998 or later, but there’s nothing to preclude his being an al Qaida operative earlier. He’d been out of jail since 1993, and had been following Islam since that same time. It’s possible he was recruited in Islamic circles in the US, and that’s an angle that the government is currently looking into.
 

Researching this tale has taken me to some strange places—stories of Aryan nation groups, radical Islamic factions, bank robbers, fortunes in gold locked away in a storage locker, cryptic notes and far-flung countries. But has it led to a definitive conclusion, either regarding John Doe #2’s existence or Abdullah al Mujahir’s possible role in Oklahoma City?
 

No. I’m probably more intrigued than ever, but I can’t say that I’m convinced that Abdullah al Mujahir, aka Jose Padilla, is John Doe #2, or than John Doe #2 even existed. But one thing is for sure—because of that security tape someone in the FBI knows the answer to the latter, and that could help determine the facts of the former.
 

When asked yesterday what the government intends to do with Mr. Mujahir, who is currently in military custody, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said the most important thing is to find out what Mujahir knows. Indeed—we need to know what Mujahir knows about al Qaida, and whether he once knew a man by the name of Timothy McVeigh.
 

If I were to lay odds, I’d say there is about a 60% chance that he did.
 

SOURCES:
 

U.S. “dirty bomb” plot failed
 

A Tale of Intrigue
 

Middle East Connection to Oklahoma City
 

Nichols Gets Life for Oklahoma Bombing
 

Suspected Dirty Bomb Terrorist Had Florida Ties
 

The Mystery of John Doe No. 2
 

Official: Suspect Met Al-Qaida Ties
 

THANKS TO EVERYONE who sent tidbits, thoughts and conjectures, especially Lakefxdan who got the ball rolling in my comments section, John Berger, Dan Yurman, Ritchey Ruff, Juan Paxedy, Robert Crawford and a few others who left one-word names or no name at all.
Bryan Preston | 12:46 AM Comments [15]

Wednesday, June 12, 2002
QUICK UPDATE just to let everyone know I finally have a little time and I'm online culling information to piece together Jose Padilla's timeline. If you run across something related to him, please email it to junkyardblog@hotmail.com.
Bryan Preston | 9:13 PM Comments [0]
WELCOME to all you folks coming from Slate's Other Web Sites, and from numerous chat boards and other blogs working on the Jose Padilla case.
 

I'm getting ready, hopefully some time today, to take the nuggets that several commentors have left here and try to track Mr. Padilla's movements and line them up against the OK City bombing, and compile it all into one post. Hopefully today....so if you find anything that either helps or hurts the case, please email it to me. If I use it in my report, you'll get noted.
 

My own take on the whole thing is that I posted the pictures, not because I thought Padilla is John Doe #2, but because the resemblance is so striking. I posted it on a lark--I'm not much for conspiracy theories at all. But as evidence has built over the past day or so, I am starting to see more than a series of coincidences here. It could well be that--just a string of unlikely dots that have no real connections. I and the commentors report, you can decide...
Bryan Preston | 12:03 PM Comments [5]