Bomber Takes Truth to Grave By Kelly Patricia O'Meara
Stephen Jones, the lead trial attorney for
Timothy McVeigh, writes in the newly updated version of his 1998 book,
Others Unknown: The Oklahoma City Bombing Case and Conspiracy, that "the
real story of the bombing as the McVeigh defense pursued it is complex,
shadowy and sinister. It stretches, weblike, from America's heartland to the
nation's capital, the Far East, Europe and the Middle East, and much of it
remains a mystery."
Jones continues in the tones of a conspiratorial whisper: "There may be
reasons why this is so, but perhaps the most important has been the U.S.
government. And, in the end, the Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy may not
merely be the crime itself but also the systematic, deliberate attempt of
our federal government to prevent all of us from finding out what exactly
happened on that terrible April morning."
Conspiracy theories from trial lawyers whose clients have been convicted of
unfathomable crimes are familiar stuff. But that's the story from the trial
attorney for the man who is scheduled to be executed for his part in this
nation's worst mass murder and he's sticking to it. Jones, perhaps better
than any other, knows more about this crime that didn't make it into the
trial, or even the press. And there are others, many others, who believe the
whole truth has not been told.
Not the least of these is a host of respected journalists from mainstream
media who have spent years pursuing the same leads as McVeigh's defense
team, dogging the men and places that seemed to show up on their radar
screens again and again: Places such as Elohim City, a fortress of alleged
paramilitary radicals on the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma. Names
such as Louis Beam, former grand dragon of the Texas Ku Klux Klan and author
of the anarchist treatise, The Leaderless Resistance; Kirk Lyons, founder of
the Cause Foundation and a long-standing member of the Aryan Nation; David
Hollaway, former legal assistant to Lyons and a member of the Christian
Identity movement; Dennis Mahon, a former Klansman and head of White Aryan
Resistance (WAR) in Oklahoma City; and Andreas (Andi) Strassmeir, chief of
security at Elohim City and a close friend of Mahon.
Now, however, for reasons unknown, the investigative reporters and editors
who followed all this are refusing even to discuss their investigations of
the bombing and the possible conspirators they so tirelessly tracked.
Then there are the nearly 200 relatives of the bombing victims who not only
believe there is much more to the story, but that some agents of the federal
government had prior knowledge or even warning of the bombing. In fact,
questions about what the government may have known are so important to these
families that in March 1997 survivors and relatives of the victims filed
notice of a federal tort claim against several federal agencies, detailing a
variety of potential allegations.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the U.S. Marshal's
Service, the Federal Protection Service, the General Services Administration
and the FBI are among the agencies given notice that the survivors/families
intend to raise serious questions about how much the federal government
knew, or should have known, about the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Four years after formal notice was filed, the government has not responded,
leaving the door open for the survivors and relatives of the victims to
proceed with their lawsuit.
According to the attorney representing the families, this is a negligence
action and, most likely, they will claim that the government had enough
knowledge and information that federal buildings in Oklahoma City were
likely targets on the day of the bombing that extra precautions could and
should have been taken. Richard Bieder of the Bridgeport, Conn., law firm of
Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, is the lead attorney collecting information on
the claim. He has zeroed in on many of the same shadowy figures tagged
earlier by the McVeigh defense team as it sought to determine whether
representatives of the federal government, through operatives or even paid
informants, had knowledge the bombing was being planned.
"We're looking," Bieder explains, "for information that will allow us to
bring this suit. There is a lot of speculation and rumor, but the original
link - the first hint of prior knowledge - is that there were many who
reported seeing people in uniform just prior to the bombing. There also is
the information about Elohim City, Andreas Strassmeir and government
informant Carol Howe. Howe's statements don't provide us with a clear-cut
case of prior knowledge - nothing that we can bring suit with - but we're
still collecting evidence, still looking at information."
An attorney representing potential claimants in another aspect of the
Oklahoma City bombing also raises the names of those being referred to as
the "usual suspects." Even relatives of the victims - those with nagging
questions about facts surrounding the bombing - are well-versed in the
alleged connections of the reportedly suspected conspirators and their
alleged relationships to McVeigh.
Take for instance Cathy Wilburn. She and her late husband, Glenn, were among
the first to question the official version of events and sign on to the tort
claim. Their daughter, Edye Stowe, lost two children in the bombing - Chase,
age 3, and Colton, age 2. In the aftermath, very early on, they began
learning of oddities and anomalies between what officially was being said
and what witnesses said had occurred.
"It was during a meeting at my home of the families who lost children at the
day-care center," Wilburn recalls, "that one of the mothers told us she had
seen the Oklahoma County Bomb Squad downtown that morning before the
bombing. My husband didn't believe she could be right, so he went down to
the sheriff's office and questioned them about it. They said, `Absolutely
not,' that the bomb squad had not been downtown that morning. Then, little
by little, articles would come out in the newspaper about other people who
also had seen the bomb squad. It was about two or three months later that
the sheriff's department changed its story, and said, `Oh, it's our mistake.
Our guy was downtown running errands, and he stopped to get a cup of
Wilburn says it "just seemed odd that they would go out on an errand and
hook up the bomb-disposal-unit trailer to get coffee."
Another bothersome issue for the Wilburns was the apparent amnesia of
law-enforcement officials with whom they spoke about the significance of
April 19. It didn't take long for the families touched by the crisis to
learn that people and organizations under suspicion took that date very
Wilburn tells Insight, "When several law-enforcement officials told us that
they didn't know about the importance of April 19, my husband rattled off
the events. He said April 19, 1775, was `the shot heard around the world';
April 19, 1942, the Nazis celebrated the burning of the Warsaw Ghetto; April
19, 1985, was the day the FBI raided the compound of the Covenant, the Sword
and the Arm of the Lord (CSA); April 19, 1992, was the original aborted raid
on Randy Weaver's cabin at Ruby Ridge, Idaho; and April 19, 1993, was the
day Mount Carmel was burned to the ground by the ATF at Waco, Texas."
That date is, in short, a kind of mantra for people such as McVeigh and his
paramilitary comrades. Those following loose ends of the bombing case say
April 19, 1995, was important for another reason, perhaps more directly
connected to the bombing than any of the rest. Just hours after the bombing
of the Murrah Building, Arkansas prison officials prepared for that
afternoon's execution of Richard Wayne Snell, a member of the domestic
terrorist organization known as The Order, which was founded out of the
Aryan Nation in Idaho. According to court records, Snell conceived the plan
to blow up the Murrah Building in 1983. Some investigators think it is not
coincidental that McVeigh carried out the bombing in much the same manner as
plotted by Snell 12 years earlier.
According to an inside source who asked not to be identified, "The bombing
of the Murrah Building was to avenge the execution of Richard Wayne Snell.
McVeigh was seen at Elohim City and would have been well aware of Snell's
upcoming execution on April 19, 1995." In fact, Rev. Robert Millar, the
patriarch of Elohim City, the remote 1,000-acre paramilitary compound, was
with Snell in his prison cell on the morning of the bombing watching TV as
the Murrah Building crumbled. Later, Snell's body was taken by Millar back
to Elohim City for burial. Snell had been a codefendant with Louis Beam in
the 1988 Sedition Trial held at Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the [Snell]
bombing plot of the Murrah Building was first exposed.
This gets more bizarre. Wilburn also is up to speed on the executed Snell
and tells Insight that "just the fact that you've got the building targeted
by Snell prior to 1995 and then his execution is on the same day should tell
you something. But then his body is taken back to Elohim City for burial.
And all along ATF informant Carol Howe is telling her government contact
that they're planning to blow up buildings. Connect the dots: There are too
many coincidences. I can take one or two, but come on."
How does this support the alleged government prior knowledge? A 500-page
report on the bombing will be released within the month that reportedly will
reveal the government had not one but two paid informants inside these
tangential groups with advance knowledge of the bombing. The report is the
result of a two-year investigation conducted by a committee headed by
Charles Key, a former Oklahoma state representative and longtime critic of
the official investigation conducted by the federal government.
According to "Trail of Terror: McVeigh, Nichols Did Not Act Alone," an
article by Jon Doughery for World NetDaily.com, the Key committee report
will reveal "volumes of evidence citing inconsistencies and omissions in the
government's official version of events." Doughery says it will document
"that two of the government's own informants" had warned federal officials
of "possible terrorist attacks in the United States," but that neither of
these witnesses was allowed to testify in the federal trials.
Howe, according to records filed with the federal district court in Denver,
was one of the paid informants for the ATF, living off and on for many
months at Elohim City. But she was prohibited from testifying at the McVeigh
trial, long a sore point for McVeigh's defense team. Although trial judge
Richard Matsch learned the ATF had confirmed that Howe reported to it
monthly, he refused to allow the federal informant to testify in court about
her knowledge of the bombing, deciding her testimony was "not sufficiently
relevant to be admissible." For months, according to evidence presented to
Matsch, Howe had reported to her ATF case officer that plans to blow up
federal buildings were being discussed by members of the Aryan Republican
Army (ARA). Many of them lived in or visited Elohim City, including Andi
For nearly a year leading up to the bombing of the Murrah Building,
according to the informant's notes released by the ATF, Howe filed more than
70 reports with the ATF. Directly after the bombing she was sent back into
Elohim City to obtain additional information about ARA members.
Strassmeir, a German national illegally residing in the United States at
Elohim City, long has been at the top of the list of suspected
coconspirators put forward by those investigating the Oklahoma City bombing.
Given his background, there are many who wonder how the government let him
slip away. Strassmeir's father, Gunther, was German chancellor Helmut Kohl's
secretary of state. But more importantly according to Mahon, a close friend
at Elohim City, the young Strassmeir was a member of the GSG-9, Germany's
elite counterterrorism unit. Despite ATF informant Howe's reports about the
presence and activities of Strassmeir, according to court records, federal
investigators did not interview him until nearly a year-and-a-half after the
bombing, when he safely had returned to Germany.
And, according to the inside source who spoke with Insight on condition of
anonymity, "It is most likely Strassmeir was operating out of Elohim City as
a shared asset of the German/American governments to penetrate neo-Nazi
groups living there. Otherwise, why would a man with a background of
privilege and wealth, and trained in counterterrorism, choose to live under
such primitive conditions unless he was working undercover?"
There also is evidence - in the form of records related to two prepaid
calling cards reportedly belonging to McVeigh - that his last two telephone
calls before the bombing were to Strassmeir at Elohim City and to Hollaway,
a partner with Lyons in the Cause Foundation, a radical legal organization.
Hollaway has said in interviews that he is friends with Strassmeir and that
he helped him leave the country several months after the bombing. Insight
has obtained documents confirming that Lyons was Strassmeir's attorney and
as such advised the young German to leave the country lest he be a "material
witness" in the bombing trial. Given the relationship between Strassmeir,
Hollaway and Lyons, who also was Beam's attorney in the 1988 Sedition Trial,
and that McVeigh's last calls were to these people, investigators and family
members wonder why the government didn't interview Strassmeir until a
year-and-a-half after the bombing. The government never interviewed Hollaway,
Beam or Lyons.
The list of discrepancies turned up within the government investigation of
the bombing of the Murrah Building is a long one. Many believe that when
McVeigh is executed on May 16 much of the truth about what was behind the
bombing will die with him. What is clear, however, is that most of those
following this case closely are convinced that the full truth about this
terrible crime has yet to be told and, for reasons yet to be confirmed, the
government has not been completely forthcoming about its knowledge of
related events leading up to the bombing.
Trial attorney Jones sums up what many who independently have investigated
this case say they believe: "All of us lost - all Americans - because a
government theory full of holes carried the day. Because the `others
unknown' who helped [McVeigh] plan and execute the bombing are still out
there. Because the whole tragedy might have been averted but wasn't. And
because, until we know what really happened, we can't hope to prevent other
similar tragedies perhaps carried out by some of the very people who helped
destroy the Murrah Building."