By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Fourteen survivors and victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 filed suit against Iraq in federal district court in Washington, D.C., last week, claiming that Iraqi officials gave money and training to Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols. McVeigh was executed last April. Nichols, convicted of manslaughter and given a life sentence in federal court, is awaiting trial in Oklahoma state court, where survivors are determined that he get a death sentence.
Nearly a year after McVeigh's execution, the case remains controversial. Families of victims have accused the federal government of shoddy detective work, and some even have claimed that government dicks knew from the git-go about the bombing but did nothing to prevent it and then tried to cover their asses by hiding information after the blast.
A recent report by the FBI's inspector general found that two FBI supervisors knew that nine field offices had either lost or destroyed documents that should have been provided to McVeigh's defense team as early as two months before the execution. The FBI claims that the documents wouldn't have made any difference, but says it is instituting reforms and disciplining agents.
Immediately after the bombing, federal lawmen focused on possible Middle Eastern terrorists, and Stephen Jones, McVeigh's trial attorney, said in his book Others Unknown that his client was a patsy of Middle East interests. Others have long insisted that the mysterious "John Doe No. 2" came from somewhere in the Middle East and that two accomplices seen with McVeigh before the blast looked dark and could have been Arabs. An unaccounted-for leg that turned up in the rubble was dark and might have belonged to an Arab, according to one theory.
Jones even speculated on the possibility that Nichols was involved at some level with Osama bin Laden. Jones's theory goes like this: Nichols first went to the Philippines in the 1990s, after his divorce from Lana Padilla, to find a new wife through a mail-order bride service. He came upon Marife Torres, the daughter of a traffic cop in Cebu City, and in a short time they married and she joined him in the U.S. Over the next few years Nichols made several trips to the Philippines, once for as long as six months. Nichols always said he spent the time trying to turn up "business opportunities." But Jones thought this was a fishy excuse because Nichols at one point stayed at a boarding house where young Muslim extremists lived.
In the Philippines, Jones met with an official of an intelligence service who was known only as "the Director," who coyly put him on to a guy in jail. There Jones found Edwin Angeles, a supposed cohort of Ramzi Yousef, being held in protective custody by the Filipino police. At first, Angeles wouldn't talk, but he eventually told police in a filmed interview that he had been at a meeting in the early 1990s in Davao, on Mindanao, where he met an American who called himself "the Farmer." Angeles produced a sketch that resembled Nichols. Also at this meeting were Ramzi Yousef, Yousef's friend Abdul Hakim Muradand, and a man called Wali Khan Amin Shah. Angeles said in a statement that the group had discussed bombing activities, providing firearms and ammunition and training in making and handling bombs. All three were subsequently convicted of a plot to blow up 12 U.S. jetliners.
The mystery deepened. Before he went to the Philippines, Nichols left his first wife a strange package containing a letter that said if he didn't return in 60 days, Lana should open the letter and follow instructions. But Lana didn't wait 60 days and instead followed the elaborate instructions to a Las Vegas storage locker, which contained a stash of $20,000, which she gratefully seized. Maybe Nichols thought he would be rubbed out by his Middle Eastern cohorts in the Philippines.
Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, the feds investigated Nichols's activities in the Philippines, but his ties to the Middle East were never proven, and the feds eventually left that trail in favor of the homegrown conspiracy. Judge Richard Matsch didn't allow Jones to introduce his Middle Eastern foray into evidence, and there the matter rested until September 11 got everybody thinking again.
The huge block of ice that split off from Antarctica last week is just another sign that the poles are melting at an unexpectedly rapid rateso fast that the famed Northwest Passage will be open to commercial shipping within a decade, creating new problems for the U.S. military.
When this happens, there will not only be a boom in shipping, because the passage cuts by one-third the distance from Europe to East Asia, but commercial fishing boats will be able to get at vast schools of fish hitherto unreachable because of the ice. The world's stock of fish has long been predicted to decline due to overharvesting.