On Sunday April 19, Oklahoma City residents and other Americans observed the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. It remains the largest homegrown terrorist attack in U.S. history. It has largely been overshadowed by 9/11 and the war on terror. We forget that 168 Americans lost their lives that day at the hands of fellow citizens. But could have some of the problems that plagued officials from learning more about the September 11 attack started as far back as 1995 and the Oklahoma City plot?
In a recent article from the U.K. Guardian, communication between various agencies was a problem even back then. While both the FBI and ATF were monitoring a number of radical right-wing groups, the two entities were both concerned about creating another situation like the raid and ensuing fire that had occurred when the FBI raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas two years earlier.
The Department of Justice was heavily pressured to apprehend suspects and bring them to justice. But many statements by witnesses were never thoroughly followed up on by authorities. To the people who were seen in Tim McVeigh’s Kansas hotel room the week before the bombing, to the person or persons who rented the infamous Ryder truck, to police sketches of a possible third person who was with McVeigh and his known accomplice Terry Nichols on the morning of the bombing, many of those became a lesser priority or were forgotten about altogether.
And what of McVeigh’s alleged ties to a place called Elohim City? A compound of sorts on the Oklahoma/Arkansas border that is frequented by anti-government and a smattering of white supremacist types. Two weeks after an ATF informant was pulled from Elohim City, phone records indicate that McVeigh was making calls and possibly even visited the compound in order to find recruits to assist in the plot.
There are many questions and bits of information such as this that were never pursued. While homegrown terrorism has been overshadowed by Islamic terrorism, guys like Tim McVeigh are still out there. America must not endure another 9/11, and we must not endure another Oklahoma City.