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A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms memo shows that the agency knew about the activities of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh a year before the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, while dozens of witnesses have testified that federal, state and local officials had prior knowledge of the bombing.
According to a new 500-page report authored by the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation Commission, led by former state Rep. Charles Key, “many people in Oklahoma City began to recall … conversations they had had or overheard,” indicating that “the federal government had prior knowledge of an impending attack on the Murrah Building. …”
At the very least, the commission’s report said, officials had “a general warning of an attack in the Oklahoma City area” or at several other locations around the country — all of which had been put on alert that day.
Portions of the new report — made available exclusively to WorldNetDaily — included a copy of an April 30, 1995, ATF intelligence memo written by Special Agent Angela Finley.
“In August 1994 this agent began an investigation of White Aryan Resistance (W.A.R.) leader Dennis Mahon and Elohim City,” an Oklahoma-based center for right-wing extremists, the memo said. “Confidential Informant has close ties with Mahon and has visited Elohim City on numerous occasions.”
The “confidential informant,” the commission’s report said, turned out to be Carol Howe, who at one time was Mahon’s lover but who was recruited as an informant for the ATF after she and Mahon had a falling out.
“W.A.R. trains at Elohim City and Posse Comitatus” — another extremist group — “members also frequent” the area, said the memo.
“ATF is primary enemy of all three (sic) people,” the memo continued. “Elohim City’s leader Robert Millar was contacted by McVeigh April 5, 1995, after he had contacted Ryder rental that day.”
The ATF’s mention of McVeigh and the Ryder truck — most likely the same truck used in the OKC bombing — was corroborated by the Key commission, which interviewed a Pennsylvania attorney about another Ryder truck incident near Oklahoma City just days before the attack.
What the attorney, who requested anonymity, wrote in a Dec. 7, 1997, e-mail to the Key commission seemed to suggest that other law enforcement agencies were aware of not only a possible threat to structures in Oklahoma City, but also that some officials even knew how a portion of the attack would be carried out:
“I have clients in Ohio who have an adult babysitter who, with two of her female relatives, moved a load of household goods from California to Ohio. Their route took them through Oklahoma City several days before the explosion. They had rented a Ryder truck for this trip and, as they drove near Oklahoma City, they were pulled over by several Oklahoma state troopers. … You can imagine their shock when, a few days later, the explosion occurred, and it was revealed that a Ryder truck was involved.”
At the request of the commission, the report said, the attorney contacted the oldest of the three women — the mother of the other two — to find out more details about the stop.
“She said the stop occurred four days before the explosion,” the attorney wrote in an e-mail to the commission, following his interview of the women. “There were three Oklahoma State Police cars involved, but there was no search. The first trooper who approached [the women’s Ryder truck] did so with gun drawn,” the memo said.
“After a few questions regarding who the women were, where they were coming from and where they were heading, they were told they could go. No explanations, no tickets, just a frightening stop and the shock of the explosion days later,” the attorney wrote.
ATF gets prior warning
About two months before the bombing, the commission said ATF informant Howe “reported that members of Elohim City were making plans to bomb federal buildings and assassinate politicians. Howe reported that members of the group had begun staking out federal buildings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”
As WND reported earlier, witnesses who were employed in the Murrah Building said they saw McVeigh and others there in the days prior to the bombing.
Besides McVeigh, Howe — in her reports to the ATF — said Dennis Mahon and “a West German national, Andreas Carl Strassmeir,” were involved in staking out the building. Howe said they had made trips to Oklahoma City in November and December 1994, and again in February 1995, to inspect the Murrah building specifically.
“She also advised that militants within their group were advising that action needed to be taken by April 19th,” which is formally known as Patriot’s Day in the U.S. and is also the anniversary of the FBI’s final raid against the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.
Another ATF informant, Cary Gagan, was also able to provide federal officials with prior warning and knowledge of planned domestic terrorist attacks.
Gagan told the commission that “due to his ability and reputation for obtaining false identification papers, he was approached by Arab-looking individuals who offered him $250,000 to help them in a bombing plot,” the commission’s report said.
“Gagan usually met with these individuals in and around the Kingman, Ariz., area,” the report said. “He knew them as Omar and Ahmad. They were often in the company of an unidentified third man.”
The commission said Gagan informed the U.S. Department of Justice in September 1994 “that he had been approached by these men to take part in the bombing of a federal building somewhere in the Midwest,” the report said, adding that “the plot included Latin American conspirators.”
He was given a letter of immunity by the Justice Department and he “continued to meet with the individuals who recruited him,” the commission’s report continued.
“On March 17, 1995, Gagan met with these people in a motel room in Las Vegas, where they examined drawings of the Murrah Building,” said the report. “Three times Gagan was sent by the group to Oklahoma City to case the building. He said he reported these occurrences to Justice Department officials in Denver.”
In the bombing’s aftermath, Gagan filed a civil lawsuit against the federal government for withdrawing his immunity without advising him and for “attempting to prevent him from testifying in the criminal and civil trials resulting” from the attack, the commission said.
“He alleged the government took this action in order to cover up their wronging in not acting on the bomb warning he had provided to them,” the commission said.
Regarding the ATF’s specific prior knowledge, then-Director John McGaw, in a news conference May 25, 1995, said he had ordered the agency’s field offices to be more alert.
“I was very concerned,” McGaw said. “We did some things here in headquarters and in all our field offices throughout the country to try to be more observant.”
ATF absent from Murrah Building
According to the Key commission’s report, several witnesses reported that ATF agents were not in the Murrah Building the morning of the bombing because, as some alleged, agents had been warned ahead of time to stay out.
Tiffany Bible, a paramedic with OKC’s Emergency Medical Services Authority — the city’s ambulance service — arrived four to five minutes after the bombing, she told the commission.
“She recalls having thought that there must have been a natural gas line explosion,” the report said. “She approached an entrance to the building where an ATF agent was standing and asked how a gas line explosion could do that much damage. The agent replied that it was the result of a car bomb.”
Bible “expressed concern” to the agent, the report said, “because there were fellow agents of his in the building. The agent responded by saying, ‘No, we weren’t in there today.'”
Another witness, Bruce Shaw — whose wife worked in the Murrah Building at the Federal Credit Union — testified that another ATF agent said “agents were tipped on their pagers not to come into the office that morning,” the report said.
And Katherine E. Mallette, an Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate — also with EMSA — said in a sworn affidavit to the commission that, as her ambulance was waiting to transport victims to area hospitals, “two ATF agents walked by … and she heard one of the agents say to the other, ‘Is that why we got the page not to come in today?'” the report said.
ATF officials denied having any prior knowledge of the bombing and especially denied warning agents stationed in the Murrah Building not to report for duty the morning of the bombing.
Director McGaw, at the time, said it was not uncommon for agents not to be in the office, because they were likely out working cases or in court.
But, the commission found, witnesses in the Murrah Building who worked for different agencies and offices there said they had noticed that the ATF contingent in the office the morning of the bombing — reported to be about five persons — was smaller than usual.
Other witnesses discuss prior warnings
A number of other witnesses, the commission said, testified to instances that seem to indicate federal, state and local officials knew an attack was coming.
A female Army captain who was stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center at the time of the bombing said her office had “received two phone calls” from “a person [who] identified himself as ‘Pentagon’ or ‘congressional liaison to the governor of Oklahoma’s office,'” the report said.
The officer said the man on the phone had asked to speak to a doctor about medical protocols, and “specifically about ‘triage for victims of blast overpressure.'”
Also, in a sworn affidavit to the commission dated Dec. 10, 1997, Jeffrey H. Broyles, who was an inmate in the custody of United States deputy marshals, was being transported from the Oklahoma County Jail in OKC to the McCloud [Okla.] Correctional Facility, said the report.
“Sometime between 8:30 and 8:40 a.m.” the morning of the bombing, the report said, quoting Broyles’ affidavit, “a radio dispatch came in. At the end of it, a female officer made a statement to a male officer, ‘I wonder why they’re going to evacuate the federal building.'”
About ten minutes later, “another dispatch came in,” the report said. “The male officer made the comment, ‘Well, now they’re not going to evacuate it.'”
Harvey Weathers, then a deputy fire chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, told the commission that the FBI “issued a warning the week prior to the bombing for them [the fire department] to be on alert.”
In a later interview with USA Today, Weathers elaborated, saying the OKCFD “did receive a report on Friday, April 14, about ‘some possibilities of some people entering the city over the weekend,'” the commission’s report noted.
Calena Flo Groves, an OKC Police Department dispatcher, contacted Key personally to “volunteer information concerning a call she had taken on approximately April 12, 1995,” the report said.
“The caller told Groves that he had overheard two men discussing a bomb plot,” said the report. “The man also said he had heard the name ‘Nichols’ mentioned by the two men” who were discussing it.
“When police officers did not arrive to take his statement, the man called and talked to Groves two or three more times,” the commission said. “Groves told interviewers Roger Charles and Charles Key [commission members] that she did not believe the caller was impaired or unbalanced, as depicted in the police report, which was not filed until after the bombing,”
Randy Yount, a park ranger for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, said in a sworn affidavit that he saw a friend of his — a member of the local sheriff’s department bomb squad — within minutes after the bombing.
Yount, the commission reported, said he learned of the bombing after feeling the explosion in his west Oklahoma City suburb and turning on local TV. He then headed downtown after putting on his uniform to see if he could help.
After a state trooper dropped him off at the Murrah Building, he saw his bomb squad friend and went over to speak to him.
Yount told the commission his friend said: “Yeah, we’ve been down here since early this morning looking. We got word that there was going to be a bomb, and we thought it was going to be the courthouse. We went over everything and couldn’t find anything.”
Renee Cooper, who lost her infant son who was in the daycare center of the Murrah Building the day of the bombing, told the commission she saw “several men in dark jackets with the words ‘Bomb Squad’ written on them standing in front of the Federal Courthouse, across the street south of the Murrah Building, at 8:05 a.m.,” said the report.
The commission concluded that “federal, state, county and city officials were obviously given some kind of warning prior to the bombing,” but “how specific that warning was, we do not know.”
The report said the warning could have been “a general alert to be more vigilant,” as some government agencies have said and — with some agencies — “this may be true.”
“But with other government entities, the threat seems to have been more specific,” the commission said. “The presence of the bomb squad in the downtown area that morning and the page to the ATF agents telling them to not come into the office supports this conclusion.”
“We question why government agencies have tried to quash these reports,” the commission’s report said, as well as why those same agencies “have provided disinformation and have tried to discredit the witnesses. …”