Even before we knew who Oklahoma University’s suicide bomber was – we knew he “acted alone” and “did not pose a threat to anyone else.” Hmmm … I thought the facts came first, and after we had them in hand, then we drew our conclusions. But on the other hand, that hasn’t happened in higher education since Lawrence Summers still had his male anatomy intact at Harvard, has it?
It was only later that we learned the bomber was Joel Henry Hinrichs III, an engineering student at the Norman, Okla., campus. His father assured us that his son had no political agenda. No word if the same is true of the two Pakistani students with whom he shared an apartment, which the police bomb squad cleared of surplus explosives in several trips.
Of course, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Lots of people commit suicide by strapping explosives around their waists and blowing themselves to bits outside crowded athletic stadiums during packed games at our nation’s universities, right? And these same people always try to buy ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as Dustin Ellison, general manager of Ellison Feed & Seed on Porter Avenue, in Norman, says that Mr. Hinrichs did this past Tuesday. (When Hinrichs was unable to explain why he needed the fertilizer, Ellison declined to sell it to him.)
So Mr. Hinrichs had to content himself with using TATP (triacetone triperoxide), a homemade explosive of dubious stability that was also employed by Richard Reid, the failed “airplane shoe bomber,” as well as the recent London bombers. TATP, as we learned after the follow on London bombing, sometimes explodes early.
The president of the University of Oklahoma is David Boren, a favorite son and resident of Norman. If the name sounds familiar, perhaps it is because you remember him as Sen. Boren, D-Okla., who – at the time he retired in 1994 – was chairman of the Senate Committee on Intelligence. Perhaps Mr. Boren still maintains his contacts, and some elbow twisting was applied in both directions to keep news of Mr. Hinrichs’ early departure to claim his 72 virgins under wraps?
If Norman, Okla., sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because Zacarias Moussaoui (I don’t need to learn how to take off or land) lived there for six months around the time he was taking flight lessons. Or maybe it’s because that’s where the FBI was frantically seeking Middle Eastern men following the 1995 Murrah building bombing – and then frantically denying they were frantically seeking Middle Eastern men from the scene of the bombing. (All of which is well covered and documented by Jayna Davis in her book, “The Third Terrorist.”
So go back to sleep, America. Suicide bombers in America are a different species. They want to kill only themselves. It’s such a private, peaceful exit. It’s only suicide bombers overseas who want to kill nightclubs full of innocent tourists, busloads of Jewish schoolchildren, barracks full of American Marines, and buildings full of stockbrokers. We’re not really engaged in a war. Feel free to criticize and demoralize our troops in Iraq. We’d all be so much better off if the war was fought in American shopping malls and university athletic stadiums. World War IV is only a bad dream.