Saturday, October 08, 2005

Plot thickens in Hinrichs story

Mark Tapscott from Townhall.com has an interesting column today on the mysterious case of Joel Henry Hinrichs III. In addition to questioning why the Justice Department would want to seal the search warrant used to get into the OU student's apartment, he also makes note of some details many of us might not have been aware of:

So there is no surprise that the more officials with the FBI and the Joint Task Force on Terrorism deny Hinrichs had any terrorist ties, the more holes appear in the “lone bomber” scenario first hastily offered by OU President David Boren. Boren is a former U.S. senator who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence when he retired from government in 1994.

Start with the actual holes made in the bark of a tree near the bench where Hinrichs was sitting when he died. The holes appear to have been made by ball bearings or perhaps nails, the very objects typically used by Middle Eastern terrorists bombers to inflict the most widespread possible damage, injury and death.

Here’s another hole: Hinrichs registered his car in Oklahoma in June of this year, but only for nine months ending in February 2006. The June registration could be explained by his going to summer school, but the February expiration date would fall in the early weeks of what would have been his spring semester at OU. Did he know months ago that he would not be around by the time February rolled around next year?

Speaking of his car, federal investigators gave it the once-over but then left it in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Hinrichs lived with three or four Muslim students. By the way, the Muslim Students Association office is across the street from the apartment complex, as is the mosque attended by alleged 9/11 “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui while he was attending a local flight school.

Not only did investigators not impound Hinrichs’ car, they also left out in plain sight on the vehicle’s front seat the Justice Department inventory of things they found in it, including 13 plastic bottles.

The bottles weren’t described, nor did the inventory indicate whether any of them had anything in them. However, plastic bottles are often associated with bomb makers who find the containers suitable for transporting volatile chemical explosives.

An article from Friday's Investor's Business Daily questions the MSM's apathy towards this story:

So far, the big media have laid off Hinrichs' death. Apparently the fact that he was on a park bench just 100 yards from more than 84,000 fans when the bomb attached to his body exploded wasn't enough to stir their curiosity. Nor was the fact that death by detonation, not to mention a blast strong enough to be heard four miles away, isn't exactly a common method of suicide, which is how the incident was first categorized.

It took local media to learn that authorities found bomb-making material in Hinrichs' apartment. And as far as we can tell, there's been no mention on network news of Hinrichs' attempt to buy ammonium nitrate a few days before his death. Ammonium nitrate was the main component of the explosion that blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168.

It also took local media to learn that a stadium guard said a "guy had sprinted off" earlier outside the stadium's Gate 6 after refusing to let security search his backpack. A backpack was found near Hinrichs' body.

Local media also pointed out that the explosive that killed Hinrichs — triacetone triperoxide — is the same one that shoe bomber Richard Reid used. Made from commonplace ingredients, the substance was also used by the London tube bombers.

There's also at least one report, unconfirmed and doubted by O.U.'s Muslim Student Association president, that Hinrichs, whose Pakistani roommate attended a local mosque, had converted to Islam. Meanwhile, local TV is claiming that Hinrichs was a frequent visitor at the same Islamic mosque that Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the 20th 9-11 hijacker, attended in 2000.

Such coincidences do not a terrorist make. But talk of a conversion, a home stocked with bomb-making supplies, death by explosion and the presence of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force raise suspicions. Was Hinrichs on a homicide bombing mission when unstable explosives went off at the wrong time?

I think that is a distinct possibility. It is worth noting however that so far we have no evidence from security cameras that Hinrichs tried to get into the stadium nor are there any records that he had bought a ticket to the game.

But would that be proof positive that he didn't intend to harm others? Not necessarily. Any potential suicide bomber would know that he wouldn't have much of a chance of getting through the gates with explosives strapped to his body or in his backpack. However, once the spectators started filing out after the game it would be a very simple matter to mingle into the large crowd and do his deadly deed there. In terms of casualties, the results would be very much the same as if he had been sitting in the stands. So it may be possible that the unstable explosives went off prematurely while Hinrichs was biding his time waiting for the game to end.

Having said all of this, I am aware that lot of what we understand to be the facts of this case may very well turn out to be rumor or conjecture. One needs only to look back at the recent fictitious reports of rapes and murders in the Katrina aftermath to see how information can be exaggerated. But one thing we know to be fact is that we now have a search warrant that has been sealed by the federal government -- something which makes it ever more difficult to believe the official FBI version of last Saturday's events. I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for that move.

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