A recently declassified FBI memo obtained by an Oklahoma newspaper contains several revelations concerning the Oklahoma City bombing investigation that could give attorneys for co-conspirator Terry Nichols ammunition to argue in his next trial in March that there were more than just two people involved in the crime.
The memo, transmitted electronically, was sent to the OKBOMB investigation task force and a select group of FBI offices around the nation eight months after the devastating 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, reports the McCurtain Daily Gazette.
One of the revelations was the involvement of civil-rights attorney Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center in an informant operation. According to the memo, the SPLC was involved in monitoring subjects for the FBI believed to be linked to now-executed bomber Timothy McVeigh, the neo-Nazi compound at Elohim City and the mysterious German national Andreas Carl Strassmeir.
The Daily Gazette says the memo, dated Jan. 4, 1996, was heavily redacted. It mentions individuals the FBI believed were involved in two cases – OKBOMB, the probe of the OKC bombing, and BOMBROB, which involved a wide-ranging search for a group of neo-Nazi bank robbers in the mid-1990s.
Six people eventually were arrested in connecting with the BOMBROB investigation, the paper reported, all of whom had ties to Elohim City.
Only two people have been charged in relation to the OKC bombing: McVeigh and Nichols. But attorneys for Nichols, who faces 161 counts of first-degree murder on top of a federal life-sentence conviction, likely will use the opportunity of his upcoming trial to implicate others in the crime, an act that took the lives of 168 people.
The paper reports that the memo mentioned Strassmeir, though his name was redacted. The German national was sought in early 1995 after in informant told authorities about an alleged plot by Elohim City to bomb federal facilities and kill a large number of people. Strassmeir has extensive military know-how and was acknowledged to have provided terrorist training to residents of the white-supremacist compound.
Controversy over a planned raid of Elohim City stalled efforts to arrest Strassmeir, who eventually made his way to the safety of his politically connected family in Berlin, the Daily Gazette reported.
The paper says one statement in the memo casts doubt on the theory that Nichols was a conspirator in the bombing.
Wrote then-FBI Director Louis Freeh: "Prior OKBOMB investigation determined that (name redacted) had placed a telephone call to (name redacted) on 4/5/95 a day that he was believed to have been attempting to recruit a second conspirator to assist in the OKBOMB attack."
The statement in the memo describing a phone call placed by McVeigh suggests he was still searching for a partner a mere two weeks before the bombing. Federal officials have argued, however, that Nichols was deeply involved in the plot as far back as September 1994.
The involvement of the SPLC is mentioned in the following quote from the memo:
"(Name redacted) telephone call from (name redacted) on or about 4/17/95, two days prior to the OKBOMB attack, when (name redacted) of the SPLC, was in the white supremacist compound at (redacted), Oklahoma, notes the director."
The Daily Gazette reports, "References to an informant working for the SPLC at Elohim City on the eve of the Oklahoma City bombing raises serious questions as to what the SPLC might know about McVeigh's activities during the final hours before the fuse was lit in Oklahoma City – but which the SPLC has failed to disclose publicly."
Dees confirmed the presence of an informant at Elohim City at a recent press conference, the paper reported.
"If I told you what we were doing there, I would have to kill you," Dees replied when asked to explain.
Dees has been critical of the so-called right-wing militia movement in the U.S., having written books and articles about the subject. His critics believe the attacks have been exploitive and designed to raise donations for his tax-exempt foundation.
"A lot of hate groups don't like me," Dees said. "I'll tell you … when you put them out of business and take their double-wides (mobile homes), they don't like it. We've sued a lot of these vicious hate groups over the years."
Attorney Stephen Jones, who represented McVeigh at trial in Denver, Colo., told the Daily Gazette he was not provided this information from the government despite repeated motions filed with the court.
"We filed motions with the judge specifically asking for details of surveillance activities at Elohim City and other places. We were told by prosecutors that they had no records. Now you have some of them," Jones told the paper.
"Also, as you know the FBI kept saying they had no information linking McVeigh to Elohim City beyond the one phone call on April 5. Well, as you can see, there's much more than that here."
The FBI stands by its position there was no one else involved in the bomb attack.
"We arrested everyone in this crime, and these conspiracy stories just waste our time," Gary Johnson, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City FBI office told the paper.
Speculation has swirled about a larger group of people having been involved in the bombing. As WorldNetDaily reported, Oklahoma City attorney John M. Johnston said in 2002 he and others had gathered a "mountain" of evidence that implicates Iraq in both the Oklahoma City bombings and the Sept. 11 attacks.