Art Moore entered the media world as a public relations assistant for the Seattle Mariners and a correspondent covering pro and college sports for Associated Press Radio. He reported for a Chicago-area daily newspaper and was senior news writer for Christianity Today magazine and an editor for Worldwide Newsroom before joining WND shortly after 9/11. He earned a master's degree in communications from Wheaton College.More ↓Less ↑
Oklahoma City memorial to bombing victims shows time of the blast
Survivors and families of victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing are pressing lawmakers on Capitol Hill to take action on a congressional report that offers evidence of possible Islamic and foreign ties to the terrorist attack and concludes unanswered questions remain that could affect national security.
One victim advocacy group, VOTIVES, urges the new Congress to “take a serious stance against those in the FBI and the Department of Justice who impeded the original investigation” of the attack, which killed 168 people and wounded another 684.
VOTIVES spokeswoman Gloria Chipman, whose husband Bob Chipman was killed by the blast at age 51, told WND she was “ecstatic” about the release of the report Dec. 27 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., but now she wants something done about its conclusions, including accusations of obstruction by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Rohrabacher told WND that while he will continue a low-key, “back-burner” pursuit of some of the report’s leads, it’s up to others to take things further.
“I’ve done my part, as best as I could with the limited time and resources available to me, but I’m not the president of the United States,” he said. “Probably someone else is going to have to take the next step in following through on questions raised or try to initiate some sort of special investigation. We’ve challenged the FBI in certain areas, but I have no authority to press it further.”
Rohrabacher suggested the two Oklahoma senators, Republicans James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, would be “willing to press the administration to order the FBI into action.”
“They would have much greater impact than anything I can do,” he said.
Inhofe has been supportive of the investigation, Rohrabacher said, and Coburn asked to be kept informed.
Spokesmen for the senators did not reply to WND’s request for comment.
1995 explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured another 684
One instance is the Justice Department’s handling of a lead concerning a Muslim figure with suspected ties to the Oklahoma City bombing whose name curiously shows up on the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. The New York City bombing was attributed to Muslim terrorists connected to al-Qaida.
An Oklahoma City-area attorney with ties to the intelligence community, who asked to remain anonymous, told WND he believes this particular lead could prove to be a “Rosetta Stone to not only the Oklahoma City case but also to the true nature and extent of terror cells currently operating in the U.S.”
The attorney said that while the report did not address many key issues and information known to Rohrabacher and his committee staff, it has some merit.
“I think the report, for example, all but states Terry Nichols went to the Philippines and met with Middle East terrorist-types,” he said.
“It also raises the strong possibility that the first World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9-11 attacks are all connected.”
Rohrabacher said the report already has served one of its important purposes, to prompt people with missing pieces of the puzzle to come forward.
One example is a follow-up to the report’s revelation that on Nichols’ final trip to the Philippines, just months before the bombing, he carried a bomb-making book entitled “The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives.”
Rohrabacher subsequently has been given information indicating quotes from this book were in a notebook discovered in January 1995 in the Philippines apartment of Ramzi Yousef, a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and convicted plotter in a plan to blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific.
Robert Chipman was a victim of 1995 attack
Chipman, who founded her group in 2001, says simply of the Oklahoma City bombing, “It’s a murder case, and it’s not closed yet.”
“We’re hoping that those who impeded the investigation initially in the FBI and Department of Justice, that we’ll find out who they were and whatever they’re supposed to get for impeding investigation, they will get.”
Chipman said one of the reasons she launched VOTIVES was to “get information out that families of victims and survivors were not receiving from news media.”
She pointed to the fact that the Daily Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper, ran a single news story on the report that carried the misleading headline, “No foreign ties found in Murrah blast.”
A Daily Oklahoman editorial chastised Rohrabacher for doing “little more than provide fodder for conspiracy theorists, who wouldn’t be satisfied with any government explanation for what happened that Wednesday morning.” Rohrabacher responded with a letter to the editor, saying the paper “demonstrated yet again blind faith in the FBI’s hastily reached decision to call off any further investigation into the possibility of an accomplice, earlier dubbed John Doe No. 2. Several FBI investigators privately expressed dismay over dropping this part of the investigation only two months after the bombing.”
Chipman said that while beliefs about what happened vary widely in her group, members agree that the federal government did not get to the bottom of the case. Some have been following closely the work of independent investigator Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney who believes McVeigh was aided by a white supremacist group that had been infiltrated by the FBI.
Chipman noted that Trentadue obtained FBI documents in his Freedom of Information Act suit against the agency, which the attorney says bolster his belief the FBI had prior knowledge of the bombing.
Chipman said in a statement on Rohrabacher’s report: “We contend that the senseless death and carnage of that day, which was forced on our loved ones, citizens and innocent children, could have been prevented.”
One of Rohrabacher’s main sources for leads on the possible Islamic connection to the bombing has sharply criticized the congressman for continuing to pursue the white supremacist link. Investigative reporter Jayna Davis, author of “The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing,” contends Nichols and McVeigh were part of a scheme involving former Iraqi soldiers, including one fitting the description of the “John Doe No. 2″ many witnesses claim was with McVeigh. Last year, she criticized Rohrabacher’s investigation as a “sham,” declaring she would not participate in it for a number of reasons, including concern that he gave equal credence to the “debunked” neo-Nazi theory.
In a statement provided to WND, Davis said Rohrabacher’s report “has amounted to nothing more than the fruitless pursuit of repudiated conspiracy theories.”
“Despite two years of investigation, Rohrabacher could not make the connection between these neo-Nazi suspects and the 1995 Oklahoma bombing,” Davis said. “But he is not alone in his futile venture. The FBI, with hundreds of investigators and millions of dollars in resources, failed to establish a link as well.”
Rohrabacher, along with some others who independently have investigated the bombing, believes Islamic terrorists could have cooperated with white supremacists in the plot.
Davis said she doesn’t foresee Rohrabacher’s report getting any traction.
“In today’s political climate, the Republicans are in trouble, primarily because the Bush administration could not provide a legitimate reason for the Iraq war,” she said in an e-mail to WND. “I believe it’s time the GOP comes clean and appoints a special prosecutor to conduct a grand jury investigation of the former Iraqi soldiers who bombed an American federal building.”
‘I hope there’s no Middle Eastern connection’
Rohrabacher said that while his report could not conclusively establish there was an Islamic or foreign tie to the bombing, he privately believes there was.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. (pbs.org)
“My personal view is that there’s far too much smoke for there to have not been a fire around,” he said.
Rohrabacher spoke of a “high level of frustration during this whole investigation with how many people, from local newspapers to the FBI, to just even other members of Congress, who are just anxious not to even give another look at this monstrous crime that really appears to be unresolved.”
“I’ve been frustrated all the way through, how many people in high places aren’t interested in this,” he said.
He attributes some of that to people in a bureaucracy trying to cover up incompetence and bad decisions. But his report offers insight into the mindset of the Clinton administration, suggesting the former president did not want to confront the possibility Islamic terrorists – and ultimately a Middle Eastern state – were involved.
Rohrabacher notes that at the outset of his investigation two years ago, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating – who personally asked for the probe to be called off – mentioned then-President Clinton called him only hours after the bombing.
Clinton’s first comment, according to Keating, was, “God, I hope there’s no Middle Eastern connection to this.”
It’s now clear to us, Rohrabacher told WND, that the Clinton administration had “an aversion to any type of efforts by our government that would in some way require the use of force against foreign enemies, and especially in the Middle East.”
“That aversion flowed right from the top,” he said, “because, clearly, President Clinton and the people under him were totally committed to walking out of office with very little military action scored under their watch.”
Some of the mistakes of the Clinton administration may yet be discovered, Rohrabacher said.
“One of them may be that he prevented his administration from following through with a thorough investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing.”
Rohrabacher said he didn’t think President Bush was even aware of his investigation.
“He’s bogged down and tied up with other things,” Rohrabacher said. “I can’t blame him for that.”