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A trial this week in Utah is revisiting the provocative question raised by professional and amateur investigators who believe a wider plot surrounded the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995: Was there another man in that Ryder truck with Timothy McVeigh?
Jesse Trentadue of Salt Lake City sued the government in 2008 for violating the Freedom of Information Act, claiming the FBI is refusing to release surveillance videos that show a second person was with McVeigh when he parked the truck outside the federal building and detonated a bomb that killed 168 people the morning of April 19, 1995.
The Justice Department initially sought a third suspect who fit the description of a Middle Eastern man but then dropped the search. The FBI has maintained ever since that McVeigh was alone in the car and that his only co-conspirator was Terry Nichols, who is serving life in prison. McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001.
In her New York Times bestselling book, “The Third Terrorist,” published by WND Books, investigative reporter Jayna Davis presented convincing evidence there was a third plotter involved in the bombing and that he was an Iraqi national named Hussain al Hussaini.
The Salt Lake City trial is expected to wrap up Thursday or Friday.
Trentadue says he began investigating the bombing to seek justice for his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, 44, who was found hanged in his cell at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City. He believes his brother, a convicted bank robber who was picked up for parole violations, was mistaken for a suspected co-conspirator in the bombing and died in an FBI interrogation that went awry and was covered up by prison officials.
Trentadue is asking the federal court to allow him to search the FBI’s files himself for the missing videos. But Davis, who notes a previous lawsuit confirms the existence of crime-scene related tapes, says swimming through reams of FBI video footage probably won’t yield results.
“That’s like 2,300 hours of looking through the most worthless tapes you will ever find,” Davis told WND Wednesday.
The FBI has given Trentadue 30 video recordings in response to his FOIA request, but none shows the building exploding or McVeigh parking the truck.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups was not impressed by the FBI explanations for its recalcitrance and ordered the agency to explain why it can’t find videos that are mentioned in evidence logs.
The FBI has brought employees to the stand claiming the agency has thoroughly searched its archives and found no evidence that more videos exist.
Additional searches would be “burdensome” and unlikely to produce anything, FBI attorney Kathryn Wyer argued during the first day of the trial.
As WND reported, families of the victims have demanded the federal government act on evidence of a foreign link to the bombing plot, and a congressman who led a House committee probe of the foreign link allegations claimed he was obstructed by federal officials.
‘Smoking gun’ already revealed
Davis said the “smoking gun” in this case was already fired, and it’s sitting in open view in courtroom records.
Judge Wayne Alley, presiding judge in another FOIA lawsuit filed in 2001 by a freelance journalist, confirmed that there are more tapes in the possession of the government related to the crime scene.
“Judge Alley confirmed, in writing, that the FBI possessed numerous tapes that were recording on April 19, from multiple sources, that the American people have never seen,” Davis said in an exclusive phone interview with WND.
“So how can the FBI now say, 13 years later, we don’t know where it is? That just makes no sense. You have the largest act of terrorism in 20th-century America, and you have a recording, which is a witness that never blinks and doesn’t lie, and you lose the videotape? That’s unfathomable. That did not happen.”
Davis said the competency of the FBI needs to be re-examined, from the ground up.
“As a journalist that has looked into this for 19 years and looked into every aspect of the bombing of the Murrah federal building, it is my belief, based on the evidence and very reliable law enforcement officers that have assured me there is video the public hasn’t seen, that it does disclose not one bomber but multiple bombers and that is why it was never shown at trial. That is the reason why. Multiple bombers.”
Davis makes it clear she does not support or agree with Trentadue’s theory that the other men involved in the bombing were tied to neo-Nazi bank robbers or any other domestic groups. Her book, which, she said, lawyers from Thomas Nelson Publishers called “the most ridiculously over-documented book they’d ever read,” concludes that the other man in the Ryder truck was Hussain al Hussaini, a former Iraqi soldier. Hussaini was part of a terrorist cell that operated with the support of Iran as its state sponsor.
“I don’t agree with his philosophy in the case, but I do believe Jesse Trentadue has been a crusader for truth, because he is pursing the surveillance tapes,” Davis said. “He keeps going, relentlessly, and that’s a victory for the American people and for truth.”
Nineteen years later, the truth of what really happened remains all about the missing tapes, which were sealed at trial by Judge Richard Matsch, and have never been unsealed.
“It’s about one judge that presided over the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Judge Matsch. He sealed the tapes in 2001. He has the power to unseal them, but the FBI is now saying they can’t find them. And I don’t believe them,” Davis said. “That’s the whole argument. It would be burdensome to keep looking, we can’t find it. But until the American public becomes outraged about this, there’s going to be no pressure on the Justice Department to release that tape. You know, God only knows, if it still exists. I can’t speculate on that.”
That’s why Davis said she removed a chapter she had written about the missing tapes from her book before it went to the publisher. She did not want to be attacked for something she could not absolutely prove when the evidence laid outside of her control with the FBI.
“That’s why I relied on the testimony of 22 witnesses who have signed sworn affidavits and positively identified eight Middle Eastern men, many of whom were former Iraqi soldiers, aiding and abetting McVeigh and Nichols during the critical stages of the bombing plot,” Davis said.
“So Judge Matsch goes into his courtroom and seals videotapes that the FBI can’t find? That’s what they’re expecting us to believe,” she continued. “If Judge Matsch lifts that seal, the truth is in there. But everyone keeps missing it. It’s the forest through the trees.
“Judge Alley appealed to Judge Matsch to lift the gag order and lift the shroud of secrecy over those tapes,” Davis said. “He never lifted it.”
Hussaini sued Davis and her TV station, KFOR in Oklahoma City, for libel, but the suit was dismissed in 1999. The dismissal was upheld on appeal in March 2003. All 50 statements of fact and opinion that implicated Hussaini in the bombing were upheld in the court as undisputed.
Hussaini now sits in a jail cell in Quincy, Massachusetts, on an unrelated crime of assault and battery in which he allegedly slashed a man’s face with a beer bottle in March 2011. He is still awaiting trial.