Okla. City-Sept. 11 Connection
By Michael Smerconish
I'M NOT A conspiracy guy. I think Oswald killed Kennedy, and that he acted
alone. And, like all Americans, I figured that the tragic bombing of the
Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was the work of two sick ex-Army guys,
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
I'm not so sure.
Last night, my radio station, the Big Talker 1210, brought three speakers to
town for a remarkable presentation: Jayna Davis, a reporter from Oklahoma
City; Larry Johnson, ex-deputy director of the State Department's office of
counterterrorism, and Patrick Lang, Mideast expert formerly of the Defense
a spellbinding presentation, they made the case for a connection between
Mideast terrorism, the Murrah bombing - and the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Now I know why former CIA Director James Woolsey has been quoted as saying
that when the full truth is known about these acts of terrorism, the nation
will owe Davis "a debt of gratitude."
her name is not already a household word is the greatest mystery of all.
Just this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that U.S.
intelligence has "bulletproof" evidence of links between al Qaeda and
Hussein. Rumsfeld didn't offer specifics. But here is what we know from the
work of Davis.
the Murrah bombing occurred at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, Davis was a
reporter for the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City. She was among the first
journalists to broadcast that an enormous truck bomb had rocked the
heartland, killing 168 and injuring hundreds.
the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the FBI launched an
international pursuit of several Middle Eastern-looking men seen fleeing the
Murrah Building in a brown Chevy pickup right before the blast. Without
explanation, that all-points bulletin was later canceled. Two days later,
Timothy McVeigh was a household name. So was Terry Nichols.
And that's where most of us left the tale. Stunned, but convinced that two
Army buddies, homegrown terrorists, acted alone.
Davis didn't close this book as quickly as most of us did. She
pursued the APB and set off to track reports of multiple sightings of
McVeigh with an elusive dark-haired accomplice. The infamous sketch of John
Doe No. 2 was always tucked firmly in her grip.
soon uncovered that several employees at an Oklahoma City property-
management company said they had seen a brown Chevy truck like the getaway
vehicle aggressively pursued by law enforcement parked outside their office
in the days before the bombing. The company's owner was a Palestinian with a
rap sheet and suspected ties to the PLO.
learned that, six months before the bombing, the Palestinian hired a
handful of ex-Iraqi soldiers to do maintenance at his rental houses.
Eyewitnesses told Davis that they celebrated the bombing.
was also made aware that these same men were absent from work on April
17, 1995, the day McVeigh rented the Ryder truck that carried the bomb.
While pursuing the story of these Middle Eastern men, Davis also became
aware of another ex-Iraqi soldier in Oklahoma City named Hussain Hashem
Al-Hussaini. She was taken aback to see that Al-Hussaini's picture, when
overlaid with the government sketch of John Doe No. 2, was arguably a
perfect match. He even sported a tattoo on his upper left arm indicating
that he likely had served in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.
Davis then set about looking for a connection to McVeigh, Nichols,
Al-Hussaini and other Iraqis. It came when a colleague located two
eyewitnesses who claimed to have independently seen Al-Hussaini drinking
beer with McVeigh in an Oklahoma City nightclub just four days before the
convinced her station to run with the Iraqi-connection story. It was
met with some controversy.
Justice Department responded that the identification of John Doe No. 2
was merely a case of mistaken identity. Al-Hussaini contacted local
reporters, claiming to be falsely accused. Davis did not back off because
she believed she could repudiate Al-Hussaini's alibi.
SHE LOCATED two dozen witnesses who identified eight specific Middle
Eastern men, the majority of whom were ex-Iraqi soldiers, who were seen with
McVeigh and Nichols. Two witnesses named Al-Hussaini as the dark-haired,
olive-skinned man they observed one block from the Murrah Building just
before daybreak on the day of the blast.
also uncovered evidence that implicated several of Al-Hussaini's
co-workers. One of these men was identified as sitting in the driver's seat
of a Chevy pickup at an Oklahoma City apartment complex hours before the
truck was abandoned on the lot and towed to the FBI command post. According
to police records, the truck had been stripped of its vehicle identification
numbers and identifying body molding.
story gathered steam. Here, it would appear, was the deserted pickup
that was the same vehicle that was seen speeding away from the vicinity of
the Murrah building with two Arab-looking occupants.
there was more. Five witnesses independently fingered several of
Al-Hussaini's associates as frequent visitors to an Oklahoma City motel in
the months, days, and hours leading up to 9:02 a.m. on April 19. On numerous
occasions, the subjects were seen in the company of McVeigh, and during a
few instances, associating with Nichols - at the same motel!
spoke to the motel owner and a maintenance worker who said the men
came within feet of a large Ryder truck parked on the west side of the
parking lot at 7:40 a.m. on April 19. An unexplained odor of diesel fuel
emanated from the rear carriage. Minutes later, McVeigh entered the motel
office and returned the room key. The motel owner then saw McVeigh drive off
the lot with a man identified as Al-Hussaini.
this day, the Justice Department has refused to return the original
registration logs for the motel.
has 80 pages of affidavits and 2,000 supporting documents, and they
suggest not only an Iraqi connection to the Murrah bombing, but also to the
attacks against the Twin Towers.
example, Nichols was a man of modest means. Yet he traveled frequently
to the Philippines. Davis discovered that Nichols was there, in Cebu City in
December 1994, at the same time as the convicted mastermind of the first
World Trade Center attack, Ramzi Yousef.
has also found evidence that Islamic terrorists boasted of having
recruited two "lily whites" for terrorism.
had a very American response to Davis' investigation. He sued
for defamation. In a ruling on Nov. 17, 1999, federal Judge Timothy Leonard
dismissed the case.
1995, the federal grand jury proclaimed in the official indictment that
McVeigh and Nichols acted with "others unknown." And several members
Denver juries who convicted the two said publicly that they thought they had
Since 1997, Davis has repeatedly tried to interest the FBI in her
investigation. She has been rebuffed.
for Al-Hussaini, after leaving Oklahoma City, he went on to work at
Boston's Logan International Airport, the point of origin for several for
the 9/11 hijackers, including Mohammad Atta.
more thing. That motel where McVeigh, Nichols and Al-Hussaini were seen
together was later visited (pre-9/11) by Atta, Zacharias Moussaouy and
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