HIGHTIMES.COM | INSIDE THE OKLAHOMA BOMBING CONSPIRACY
“It brings me no joy to watch McVeigh die, no closure, it doesn’t bring my grandkids back. He deserves to die, but with the death of McVeigh, so dies the truth.” Those were Cathy Wilburn’s words to HIGH TIMES, shortly before being one of the chosen witnesses to watch convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh be put to death via chemical injection on June 11, 2001, at the United States penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. McVeigh, 33, was the first person to be executed by the federal government since 1963. A fatal injection of potassium chloride stopped his heart at 7:14 AM, CDT.
McVeigh was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997 for detonating a fertilizer bomb, concealed in a rented Ryder truck, that blew off the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Collapsing floors in the nine-story structure buried victims under masses of steel and concrete. It was the worst domestic terrorist attack in US history, killing 168 people, including 19 children attending daycare, and injuring over 500 others.
McVeigh had originally been scheduled to die on May 16, but on May 10, the Justice Department turned over more than 4,000 previously undisclosed FBI investigation papers to his attorneys. Attorney General John Ashcroft cited the FBI blunder and delayed the execution until June 11. Some of the documents in question relate to the distinct possibility that McVeigh did not act alone in the bombing.
On May 31, McVeigh agreed to seek a further delay, based on the notion that the FBI papers would have helped him avoid the death penalty at trial by implicating others in the bombing. However, on June 6, federal District Judge Richard Matsch, who presided over McVeigh’s 1997 trial and sentencing, dismissed his attorneys’ argument that the FBI had worked a “fraud on the court” by withholding the 4,000 papers. Matsch rejected the request to delay the execution, and on June 7, McVeigh decided against further appeals, including to the Supreme Court, and chose to die.
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As the international media horde descended on the modest Midwestern town of Terre Haute, the focus was predictably on McVeigh, portrayed as America’s greatest villain, having acted alone in planting the truck bomb in front of the Murrah building that fateful morning.
The official version holds that the OKC federal building was targeted by McVeigh and coconspirator Terry Nichols in retaliation for the FBI’s assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993, in which 80 men, women and children died (“Appointment With the Apocalypse,” May ‘01 HT).
Though McVeigh served in the Persian Gulf war, winning a Bronze Star for courage under fire, he was extremely antigovernment and sought to punish the Feds on the second anniversary of the Waco assault.
McVeigh was arrested 90 minutes after the OKC bombing, for driving without a license plate. The next morning, just as he was about to be released from police custody, he was identified as “John Doe #1,” and charged with the bombing.
That McVeigh was “John Doe #1” implies there was a “John Doe #2” — and there was, at the beginning of the investigation. Throughout 1995, the FBI conducted a massive manhunt for “John Doe #2,” but then the Justice Department and the FBI suddenly reversed themselves, and announced it had all been a “big mistake,” that there was no “John Doe #2” and McVeigh acted alone.
Cathy Wilburn thinks otherwise. Her life was changed forever when her grandsons, Chase Smith, 3, and Colton Smith, 2, were killed in the bombing. In addition to being one of the victims chosen by Attorney General John Ashcroft to witness McVeigh’s execution, Wilburn has been the most vocal and passionate critics of the “official version” during her six-year sojourn to, as she puts it, “gain the truth of what really happened in Oklahoma City.”
Wilburn has visited many of the sites connected to the case, be they official or conspiratorial. She has slept in the same hotel room where McVeigh spent the night before his arrest. She has visited Elohim City, the Christian Identity compound in eastern Oklahoma which McVeigh is documented to have visited and phoned in the weeks prior to the OKC bombing.
Wilburn, her husband, Glenn, and their daughter Edye Smith have filed a $30 million lawsuit against McVeigh, Andreas Strassmeir of Germany, Michael Brescia and Michael Fortier for involvement in the bombing. She says the suit is still in the courts.
Michael Fortier, an Army buddy of both McVeigh and Nichols, was the government’s star witness in both their trials, and was sentenced to 12 years for failing to notify anyone of the bombing plot. Nichols was sentenced to life in federal prison after refusing to reveal any further information regarding his role in planning the bombing.
According to an Oklahoma County grand jury, there were no additional conspirators beyond Nichols and McVeigh. In December 1998, the grand jury found no evidence the federal government had advance knowledge of the bombing, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They found no connection between the bombing and Elohim City, nor to anyone overseas, including Germany.
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Despite the findings of that grand jury, Elohim City is clearly at the center of the unofficial investigations into the bombing. A 400-acre compound located near Lawton, OK, it is home to approximately 100 men, women and children who are part of the growing Christian Identity (CI) movement.
CI is a racist, anti-Semitic theology which holds that there are essentially three distinct types of people: the “true Israelites” created by God, meaning those of Western and Northern European extraction; Jews, who are the offspring of Satan; and “mud people” — all nonwhites, descended from pre-Adamic “lower species.” The white “Israelites” should rule the world, while Jews are to be executed and “mud people” enslaved.
CI is the religion of choice for white supremacist neo-Nazis and Christian “Reconstructionists,” who would establish a theocracy in the US, replacing the Constitution with biblical law. It also intersects with creationism, which appeals to those offended by the notion man evolved from a mere monkey, regardless of the fossil record. The belief that people, or certain people, were created directly by God, and are therefore “superior,” plays right into CI doctrine.
Elohim City was founded in 1973 by Robert Millar, a Canadian CI preacher who was the “spiritual advisor” for Richard Wayne Snell, a neo-Nazi executed by the state of Arkansas the same day as the OKC bombing. Millar brought Snell’s corpse back to Elohim City for a hero’s funeral.
Snell was put to death for murdering a black Arkansas state trooper and a jeweler he thought was Jewish. On April 15, 1995, he told prison officials there would be a bombing at an unspecified location on the day of his death. Four days later, Snell’s startling prediction came true in OKC.
Snell and his neo-Nazi group, the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord, had cased the very same Murrah building for a terrorist attack back in 1983, but abandoned the plan when the rocket launcher to be utilized blew up in Snell’s hands while being test-fired.
“It’s ludicrous to believe it’s only a coincidence McVeigh picked the same building Snell targeted in ’83, and that Snell’s body was taken to Elohim City,” Cathy Wilburn states.
What of Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir, the two Elohim City roommates also named in Wilburn’s suit? Brescia has been identified as “John Doe #2” by Catina Lawson, McVeigh’s ex-girlfriend, and by Dennis Mahon, former Imperial Dragon of a Ku Klux Klan sect. Mahon, like McVeigh, was a frequent visitor to Elohim City.
Brescia sports an interesting resume that includes being part of a bank-robbing speed-metal band called Cyanide, as well as being a member of the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), which boasted of their plans to kill Jews and deport blacks.
Cathy Wilburn believes the string of 22 Midwestern bank robberies by the ARA in 1994-95 was intended to fund their racist agenda, including funneling money to McVeigh in the months prior to the bombing, as he traveled the US and stayed in motels with no apparent means of income.
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Although the other three ARA members involved in the robberies were arrested shortly afterwards, the FBI did not bust Brescia until January 1997. It was members of a militia group headed by Arlin Adams who posted flyers accusing Brescia of being involved in the OKC bombing throughout Philadelphia.
The posters read: “UNWANTED by the FBI — Michael Brescia a.k.a. ‘John Doe #2.'” They also contained a photo of Brescia juxtaposed with the familiar sketch of “John Doe #2” that was circulated by the FBI immediately following the bombing — the “John Doe #2” which the FBI said did not exist. It took a public pressure campaign for the FBI to finally move in and arrest Brescia. He was only convicted of the bank robberies, not the bombing, and has since been released from prison.
Andreas Strassmeir is a former German army official. His father is Gunther Strassmeir, one of the architects of German reunification, and former chief of staff for former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Strassmeir was present with his father at the official ceremonies celebrating the annexation of East Germany by West Germany. He came to the US in 1989, and eventually served as chief of security for Elohim City for two years, including the time prior to and following the OKC bombing. He returned to Germany in late 1995.
According to his attorney, Kirk Lyons, Strassmeir was assisted in his escape from the US by GSG-9, the German counterterrorism unit. Lyons has been an attorney for neo-Nazis, Klansmen and Holocaust deniers, and has himself been videotaped participating in neo-Nazi activities in Germany.
Carol Howe, informant for the BATF who infiltrated Elohim City, says that the bombing was masterminded by Strassmeir, who allegedly exerted profound control over McVeigh.
Howe warned her BATF case agent that the terrorist underground of Elohim City was planning to blow up a federal building in either Tulsa or OKC, with a probable target date of April 19, 1995. She identified Brescia as “John Doe #2” during a BATF debriefing following the bombing, and said McVeigh went by the alias of “Tim Tuttle” when visiting Elohim City.
The BATF confirmed in 1997 that Howe was a source — after claiming for two years that the idea that the Feds had prior knowledge of the bombing was a “conspiracy theory.” US authorities now admit they had advance warning, but that the info provided by Howe was too vague for them to act.
Strassmeir, 42, is an enigma, in that his role in and motivation for the bombing is uncertain–he has been portrayed as both a violent neo-Nazi and a government informant working undercover for the BATF.
“I don’t think Strassmeir was working for the BATF, but he was someone the government didn’t want to touch,” Cathy Wilburn comments. “He was protected by someone, he was working for someone.”
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When US officials sought to question Strassmeir in 1997, they were told by German police and intelligence that neither had any data concerning him. This seems improbable, as Strassmeir would likely have needed a security clearance to attend the reunification ceremonies. Also, his alleged neo-Nazi ties to Elohim City would have been likely monitored by German intelligence.
One possibility for the Strassmeir cover-up was to protect then-Chancellor Kohl from scandal preceding the 1998 election, given his friendship with Strassmeir’s father. (Kohl was defeated by Gerhard Schroder). Kohl himself has longstanding ties to the residual elements of the Third Reich in Germany, including associations with Nazi industrialist Fritz Ries and Eberhard Taubert, a Goebbels propaganda official who was employed by the West German national-security establishment.
Besides the German connections, there is also McVeigh’s link to the neo-Nazi tract The Turner Diaries and its notorious author, William Pierce.
The 1978 novel dramatizes a fascist takeover of the U.S. in which federal buildings are blown up. It served as a blueprint for the Order, the neo-Nazi group which robbed armored cars and assassinated Alan Berg, an outspoken Jewish radio host in Denver, in 1984.
McVeigh was said to be so obsessed with the “message” of The Turner Diaries that he sold the book at gun shows and even passed them out to friends. A copy of the book was found in his car the day of the OKC bombing.
Ironically, Pierce himself told 60 Minutes that the OKC bombing was a “mistake,” as it failed to advance the neo-Nazi cause because there was no sustained rebellion. He promised, “One day there will be real, organized terrorism — aimed at bringing down the government.”
Finally, there is the possibility that fascist elements within the U.S. military may have been involved, at least in creating the “mad bomber” Timothy McVeigh.
According to the book The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of TerrorM, McVeigh claimed that the Army had implanted him with a microchip, a miniature subcutaneous transponder, inserted in his buttocks, in order to keep track of him. “We used this with military personnel in the Iraq war, where they were actually tracked using this particular type of device,” says Dr. Carl Sanders, developer of the Intelligence Manned Interface biochip.
Following the war, McVeigh took a job at Burns International Security, where fellow employee Lynda Haner-Mele described him and his personality:
“Timmy just wasn’t the type of person who could initiate action. He was very good if you said, ‘Tim, watch this door–don’t let anyone through.’ The Tim I knew couldn’t have masterminded something like this [the OKC bombing]. It would have had to have been someone who said: ‘Tim, this is what you do. You drive the truck.'”
That the OKC bombing may have been engineered behind the scenes by fascist elements in the military, the German government and on the neo-Nazi/CI fringe seems fantastic, yet the evidence continues to mount in that direction, regardless of being covered up by the government or ignored by the mainstream press.
McVeigh was quoted in the book American Terrorist as saying, “I did not do it for personal gain… I did it for the larger good.”
Was that “larger good” a fascist overthrow of the US government, with Christian Identity zealots and neo-Nazis ascending to dictatorship? Time will tell if the prognostications in The Turner Diaries come to fruition.
As for Cathy Wilburn, she has both a documentary film and book in the works, as she continues her personal quest to expose the truth of the OKC bombing. McVeigh’s execution may have satisfied the majority of Americans, but people like Wilburn, who believe there’s much more to this than just a “lone nut bomber,” know that full justice has yet to be served as long as people and groups such as Brescia, Strassmeir and Elohim City continue to go free.
(Additional research for this story provided by Cheri Seymour.)