The Justice Department and FBI have so far failed to respond to an inquiry from the senior Pennsylvania senator regarding an alleged Iraqi connection in the Oklahoma City bombing seven years ago.
Bill Reynolds, a spokesman for Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said today that so far FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Attorney General John Ashcroft had failed to respond to an Oct. 4 letter seeking their input on the allegation.
In that letter, Specter said several earlier media reports implying the connection concerned him because “Iraqi nationals may have been involved in the [April 19] 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. …”
The allegation has a renewed significance given suspected Middle Eastern – and some say Iraqi – involvement in the 9-11 attacks.
Despite a lack of response thus far, however, Specter – a former prosecutor – “is moving ahead with an investigation and is asking tough questions,” said Jayna Davis, a former television reporter from Oklahoma City who briefed Specter regarding the alleged connection Oct. 12.
Davis, who has been investigating the links since the bombing, told WorldNetDaily she was invited by Specter to present her evidence. In his letter, Specter said Davis “has provided us with a large volume of information.”
He also said that, besides the alleged Iraqi OKC connection, he was equally troubled by “allegations concerning the potential involvement of al-Qaida terrorists in the 1995 bombing and a possible Iraqi connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”
“It is my understanding that my staff has contacted both the FBI and Justice Department requesting a briefing on the issues raised by these allegations, and these requests have been rebuffed,” Specter wrote. “It is also my understanding that such a briefing was offered to former CIA Director Robert J. Woolsey Jr., but that he declined the FBI’s offer.”
“I would appreciate your comments on whether these allegations warrant further investigation,” he concluded.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted of staging the OKC bombing on April 19, 1995, destroying most of the Murrah Building and killing 168 people.
Both were convicted in 1997, and McVeigh was put to death June 11, 2001. Nichols, who is serving a life sentence in federal custody, is scheduled to be tried on state charges in Oklahoma, where he faces the death penalty if convicted.
Nichols lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid in January. His lawyers unsuccessfully claimed that trying him again in state court for the same charges would amount to double jeopardy.
Based on that and other evidence, she said Specter’s office became interested enough to learn more.
“I went into the briefing [with Specter] expecting to be torn apart,” she said, mindful of his prosecutorial experience. “But I was elated because he was not only objective and open-minded, but it was obvious his staff had looked at this evidence very seriously.”
Included in a summary of evidence Davis shared with Specter was a timeline. She began following the Middle Eastern angle as an investigative reporter for NBC affiliate KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.
According to those documents, she said the FBI put out bulletins “immediately” after the bombing that the bureau was looking for “several Middle Eastern-looking males who were seen fleeing the Murrah Building in a brown Chevy pickup just moments before the blast.”
“Within hours and without explanation,” she said, “federal agents instructed Oklahoma County law-enforcement officials to cancel the all-points-bulletin issued that morning for foreign terrorists,” even though the FBI “continued to aggressively seek Middle Eastern suspects.”
Davis, in her summary, went on to say that within 48 hours, “the focus of the investigation shifted from the Middle East to homegrown terrorism.”
Despite the age of the case, Specter is not convinced McVeigh and Nichols acted alone.
“This is a matter which warrants an inquiry, so we will do it,” Specter said last week.
The House is also interested in the alleged Mideast connection to OKC. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the Government Reform Committee, is pushing for an explanation from Justice regarding Davis’ evidence.
Specifically, Burton has sent a subpoena to the secretary of the Navy seeking video and still camera shots of the Oklahoma City federal building on the day of the bombing, the Indianapolis Star newspaper reported Oct. 12.
“He has reason to suspect that the Office of Naval Intelligence or the Defense Intelligence Agency may have in their archives a photograph of John Doe 2 and convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh getting out of the Ryder truck before it blew up outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,” the paper said.
This Is London reported Monday that there is concern “at the highest political levels” in D.C. that “a group of Arab men with links to Iraqi intelligence, Palestinian extremists and possibly al-Qaida, used McVeigh and Nichols as front men to blow up” the Murrah building.
There is also other ancillary evidence of an Iraq connection to 9-11. Though vehemently denied by U.S. officials, Czechoslovakian government officials have repeatedly said the 9-11 ringleader, Mohamad Atta, met with an Iraqi agent in Prague in the months leading up to the attacks.
Finally, in a separate case, public-interest law firm Judicial Watch has filed suit against Iraq for its alleged involvement in the OKC bombing.
“Plaintiffs assert that the entire plot was, in whole or in part, orchestrated, assisted technically and/or financially, and directly aided by agents of the Republic of Iraq,” the suit says.