TRAIL OF TERROR
Message Board posted by Junkyardblog
re: Padilla - John Doe 2 Sketch
board is posted recent post to latest post order.
Tuesday, June 18, 2002 PADILLA UPDATE: This
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 |
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.
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,
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
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.
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 |
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.
June 16, 2002 MORE ABOUT THE MIDDLE
EASTERN CONNECTION TO OKLAHOMA CITY: Again, from
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
"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.
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
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.
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 |
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 |
UPDATE: Extremely alert reader Chris Regan found
this timeline of Jose Padilla's movements and whereabouts on
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.
OF YOU who thought my
National Review piece was off the mark, President Bush seems to see
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.
IN THE YARD: At the top of the list at the left, just under the
JunkYardSwag link, is
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 |
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.
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
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
(by the way, there's a poll at the top of that Taliban site that
demands a serious Freeping...)
SHOTS? The US wants an unnamed Iraqi UN official booted from the
country, using diplomatic-speak to accuse that official of
Bryan Preston |
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
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
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.
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 |
A BIT MORE about JD#2/Jose Padilla
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 |
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 |
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
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
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,
claims to have attended a meeting with Yusuf and a man fitting
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
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
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.
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  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
Atta, Al-Shehhi and Moussauoi said they were planning on enrolling in
a local flight school, the motel owner told the one-time State
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 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
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 |
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 |
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...
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 |
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.
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
(Remember that ball cap—it’ll pop up again when we discuss Jose
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 email@example.com.
Bryan Preston |
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...