Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
An Indiana State University criminologist has tied a former member of a militant Aryan group to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who became the first federal prisoner to be executed in 38 years earlier this month.
Professor Mark Hamm, in a new book due out this fall, names former Aryan Republican Army member Mark Thomas, originally of Pennsylvania, and other members of his group as alleged coconspirators in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, according to the Allentown, Pa.-based Morning Call newspaper in a June 22 article.
Thomas, WND said, along with fellow ARA members Peter K. Langan, Scott A. Stedeford, Kevin W. McCarthy, Richard Guthrie and Michael W. Brescia, were all indicted by a federal grand jury Jan. 30, 1997, for a series of bank robberies in a four-state region in the Midwest.
The men, including Thomas, not only had ties to McVeigh and possibly Nichols, but they also had ties to Elohim City, a neo-Nazi community that was under surveillance by federal law enforcement officials and also visited by McVeigh, WND reported.
However, the Morning Call, citing author Hamm, went further, saying Thomas and McVeigh may have linked up as early as December 1992, and that – as WND reported earlier — McVeigh may have had a hand in some of the ARA’s bank robberies.
Hamm said McVeigh may have helped Thomas and the ARA rob as many as 22 banks. However, federal officials have for years denied that the ARA and McVeigh were mutually tied into either the bombing or the bank robberies.
“I can clearly tell you … that McVeigh had nothing to do with these bank robberies,” Michael Schwartz, an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia – who prosecuted Thomas and other ARA members – told the newspaper.
Hamm disagrees, however, and said he believes as many as 10 other persons may have helped McVeigh with the bombing of the Murrah building, in terms of providing technical assistance, helping to build the bomb and funding the operation via the bank robberies. He added that Thomas recruited members for the ARA, rather than actually participating in the robberies.
The university criminologist, along with investigative journalist J.D. Cash, who has looked into the OKC bombing since the early days following the explosion, both agree that when McVeigh’s travel patterns in the years and months before the bombing are overlaid with those of Thomas and other ARA members, “a pattern appears,” Hamm told the paper.
He said he found connections the FBI missed by formulating separate timelines of McVeigh’s and the ARA members’ activities, then compared them.
Here are some of the things Hamm said he discovered, according to the Morning Call report:
In March 1993, ARA member Langan told an undercover police officer that he wanted to bomb a federal building. Langan, the officer discovered, had extensive explosives knowledge and experience.
McVeigh wrote his sister, Jennifer, a letter in December 1993 claiming he was part of a group that believed the government should be overthrown and that robbing banks could be a way to finance such an objective. Hamm says McVeigh may have served as a getaway driver in many ARA heists.
By March 1995, Hamm found that for more than a year the ARA had provided funding to McVeigh and convicted OKC co-conspirator Terry Nichols, and was to provide “tactical support” for the bombing, the newspaper said. McVeigh, Hamm said, was to carry out the bombing and then take the rap for the rest of the conspirators, “confident in his belief of securing a place in ‘patriot history,’” Hamm discovered, according to the paper.
Hamm said the patterns were difficult to find because the ARA modeled itself after the Irish Republican Army. WorldNetDaily reported in May that Irish newspapers and IRA-related materials were found in the possession of ARA members when they were arrested in 1997.
“This deliberate deception makes it difficult for any investigators to put the pieces together,” the criminologist told the paper.
“This is no theory,” Cash told WND, noting that Hamm “has the goods to back up his claims and knows what he’s talking about.”
“I hope Mark’s book will cause people to seriously consider taking another look at this case, even though McVeigh is already dead,” Cash said. “The evidence he documents is that shocking. It should cause some stir” in appropriate federal law enforcement circles, he added.