OKLAHOMA BOMBING LINKED TO BIN LADEN

Reed Irvine
Chairman, Accuracy in Media

November 21, 2001


Soon after the fall of Kabul, journalists discovered two houses in an upscale neighborhood, one bearing the seal of the Taliban and the Ministry of Defense, where a lot of interesting documents, papers and notebooks had been left behind when the Taliban made their hasty departure. On November 17, the New York Times ran a big page-one story by David Rhode on the revelations found in these documents about Al Qaeda’s activities and plans for future terrorist operations, including weapons they were thinking of using. There were references to chemical and biological weapons and even developing nuclear weapons. A page listing flight training schools in Florida torn out of a magazine and a form that comes with the Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 program that simulates flying airliners provided additional evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Times followed up with a story the next day that focused mainly on the notes and drawings of one unnamed individual who had described some proposed new weapons that a reporter for the London Sunday Times had described as "unnerving for the layman." The New York Times story by Rhode and James Glanz countered that opinion with evidence provided by scientists that the grandiose weapons for which this individual had drawn up plans were totally impractical.

"But," the Times said, "chemical formulas written by him and by another man, a Bosnian, who left notes behind at the Taliban Defense Ministry in the same quarter of Kabul, show clearly that they knew how to make crude explosives. In an apparent reference to the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, one chemical formula at the Defense Ministry is annotated in Bosnian, ‘Was used in Oklahoma.’" This had been described toward the end of Rhode’s story the previous day a little differently. Discussing the house that bore the Taliban and Ministry of Defense seals, Rhode had written, "Upstairs, a room labeled ‘special office,’ had been mostly emptied, but numerous papers remained in desk drawers. Most of them were notebooks from students. One gave a detailed description of various ways to make nitroglycerin, dynamite and fertilizer bombs. A note next to one of the explosive formulas said, ‘the type used in Oklahoma.’"

That was the biggest news in the story if the formula was not ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the ANFO bomb that Timothy McVeigh is supposed to have used to blow up the Murrah Building. "Supposed to have used" has to be said because there is a lot of evidence that an ANFO bomb alone could not have caused all the damage done to the Murrah Building and that smaller powerful bombs inside the building caused much, if not most, of it. Since the ANFO that the FBI says was in the Ryder truck failed to demolish a low concrete wall between it and the building, or knock down a nearby lamp post, it could not have destroyed the more distant reinforced concrete building.

The inspector general of the Justice Department said in his report on the FBI Crime Laboratory that the FBI analysis of the Oklahoma City case "merits special censure" because conclusions about an ANFO bomb were "incomplete," "inappropriate," "flawed," and nonscientific.

If Al Qaeda knew more than the FBI about the formula for the bombs used in Oklahoma City, that would show that it was involved in the bombing. The New York Times failed to acknowledge this, perhaps because its story did not make it crystal clear that the notation, "the type used in Oklahoma," meant that in Oklahoma, bombs made of nitroglycerin, dynamite and ammonium nitrate (a fertilizer), not just ANFO, were used.

A London Sunday Times story featured the information about the Oklahoma bomb and made it clear that the formula was not ANFO. It said, "On one page, under the title Explosivija za Oklahomu, the owner of the notebook had scribbled formulas with inscriptions in English for TNT, ammonium nitrate and nitroglycerine. The Oklahoma bomb was made from ammonium nitrate and fuel oil."

That made it clear that there was a difference, but the story didn’t discuss its signifi-cance—the revelation that more sophisticated bombs were used in Oklahoma City and bin Laden knew it. This suggests that the Murrah Building was his second attack on a U.S. building. Many people saw swarthy John Does with McVeigh and Nichols. It is believed that they are shown on surveillance tapes the FBI seized. The Kabul discovery should force the release of those tapes and a revival of the search for the John Does.

Reed Irvine can be reached at ri@aim.org


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