Mega Fix Preview: Part I
By Jack Cashill
Posted: September 21, 2004
The "Mega Fix" DVD is available now at the online store.
This story begins with an evil genius named Ramzi Yousef or "Rashid the Iraqi," his nom de guerre when he comes to Jersey City in 1993. He arrives on an Iraqi passport to show the aspiring local Islamic terrorists how to build a truck bomb. His target is the World Trade Center. His goal is to kill 250,000 people when one of the twin towers topples into the other, and the bomb discharges its cyanide gas.
Fortunately, the cyanide evaporates in the blast, and the towers hold. A disappointed Yousef boards a plane that afternoon and heads back to the Middle East. His accomplice, Abdul Rahman Yasin, takes off for Baghdad where he lives under Saddam's protection for the next 10 years.
In November 1994, in a time of relative peace and prosperity, the Democrats lose a shocking 53 seats in House, eight in the Senate, and control of both. The blame falls on the Clintons' doorstep. The loss sets the president and Hillary Clinton on a quest to retain the White House so desperate that they will knowingly sacrifice national security to advance their own cause. If this means tailoring investigations into likely terrorist acts to first fit their political needs, so be it.
That same November, Yousef applies for a visa to the Philippines. On the next day, Terry Nichols of Oklahoma City fame receives a visa for the Philippines.
On the way to the airport two weeks later, Nichols unnerves his ex-wife, Lana, when he hands her a sealed package and tells her, "If I'm not back in 60 days, open it and follow the instructions." Curious, Lana opens the package only to find a will, Nichol's life insurance policy, and instructions that lead her to $20,000 in cash.
Two weeks after Nichols' arrival, Ramzi Yousef boards a Philippines Airline flight in Manila and plants a small practice bomb. The bomb kills the Japanese tourist who takes his seat after Yousef had disembarked in – of all places – Cebu City ... the city where Terry Nichols was staying.
A month later, January 1995, Yousef has to flee his Manila apartment after setting it on fire while building bombs. When his roommate – a Pakistani pilot, Abdul Hakim Murad – returns to the apartment to retrieve Yousef's laptop, he's arrested.
Under intense questioning, Murad reveals Yousef's Bojinka plot, a plan to blow up a dozen American airliners over the Pacific. He also reveals a post-Bojinka plan to hijack commercial airliners or use small planes filled with explosives to attack specific American targets, the pilots for which are in training at American flight schools. The Philippine police even make a flow chart connecting many of the key players together, including Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef and 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle. Philippine authorities turn over all of this information to U.S. authorities by early 1995.
The authorities nab Yousef in Pakistan a few weeks later.
As to Terry Nichols, he beats it back to the United States. When Lana asks him why he had come back so soon, he tells her cryptically, "Somebody could get killed down there."
In "Against All Enemies," the much-celebrated Richard Clarke has this to say about the visits of these two terrorists to the same city in the same country at the same time: "We do know that Nichols' bombs did not work before his Philippine stay," writes Clarke, "and were deadly when he returned."
April 16-18, 1995
After his conviction, Timothy McVeigh told his story to two reporters from his hometown Buffalo News, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, and they in turn retold it in a useful book published in 2001 called "American Terrorist."
The McVeigh that one meets in "American Terrorist" is a powerful and crafty fellow. He somehow teaches himself how to build a massive truck bomb and is even prepared to assemble the 7,000-pound monster himself.
As McVeigh tells it, Terry Nichols shows up at his Kansas storage facility when he's half way through the loading process and then only because he's afraid of what McVeigh will do to his family if he does not. The pair then drive to a nearby lake and spend the next three hours mixing 13 500-pound barrels of explosives.
A Washington Post article from a week after the blast – when the truth is still being shared and reported – suggests the improbability of this story:
The bomb proved to be half again bigger than that, but for McVeigh, it was all in a morning's work – at least according to McVeigh and, alas, the prosecutors. After mixing the bomb, McVeigh allegedly drives alone toward Oklahoma in the loaded truck, crosses the Oklahoma border, and stops for the night at a small gravel lot near an anonymous "roadside motel." By his own timeline, however, McVeigh would have reached this motel about 2 p.m. This makes for a long and pointless night.
April 19, 1995
The next morning, April 19, as he tells it, McVeigh drives into Oklahoma City alone, sees no one, and no one sees him. He lights the fuses and then parks the Ryder truck in front of the Murrah building. He then grabs the thick packet of anti-government materials he brought with him, jumps out of the truck, and walks and runs with packet in hand to his yellow Mercury Marquis parked nearby.
In her stunning book, "The Third Terrorist," Jayna Davis documents beyond all doubt that McVeigh is telling only half the story. As Davis argues, McVeigh and Nichols had help from Islamic terrorists, not only in the Philippines, but also in Oklahoma City. In her role as a reporter for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Davis interviewed more than 20 reliable eyewitnesses who identified the crew of Iraqi nationals who had helped McVeigh assemble and deliver the bomb.
Twenty minutes before the blast in downtown Oklahoma City, employees at a tire store spot McVeigh and a short Middle Eastern-looking man, in the Ryder truck, and even give the pair directions to the Murrah building intersection.
Another eyewitness, Daina Bradley, cries out to the rescuers who are trying to extricate her after the blast – and they have to amputate her leg to do so, "It was a Ryder truck. It pulled up, a foreign looking man got out, and then before long, everything went black."
The FBI traces the truck's vehicle identification number to Eldon Elliot's body shop in Junction City, Kan., where the Ryder truck was rented. There, several witnesses tell the agents that McVeigh came in with a short, swarthy guy. This is where the search for John Doe No. 2 begins in earnest.
Jayna Davis also identifies and interviews numerous eyewitnesses at the Cactus Motel in Oklahoma City who see – and smell – the Ryder Truck on the night of the 18th. On the morning of the 19th, these witnesses watch as the yellow Mercury Marquis and a brown late-model pickup leave the motel with the Ryder truck in a convoy of three vehicles.
Five minutes before the blast, printing operator Jerry Nance notices an unusual car in the downtown Oklahoma City parking lot near where he works. It's a dilapidated yellow Mercury Marquis. Behind the wheel is a dark-skinned, Middle Eastern-looking man in a ball cap.
Nance remembers the car well. When he walks back toward it, after he gets some stuff from his own car, the Mercury Marquis almost runs him over. Now, however, the Middle Eastern man sits in the passenger seat, and a tall white man is driving the car out of the parking lot, recklessly at that.
Two minutes later, the Murrah building blows. Nance informs the FBI of this incident before anyone knows McVeigh has been apprehended in a yellow Mercury Marquis.
Three hours after the blast, the FBI issues an all-points bulletin for a brown Chevy pickup, with tinted windows, seen speeding away from the area, with two Middle Eastern-looking men inside.
A week later, the FBI quotes Nance and the tire store employees in its request before a federal judge to hold McVeigh over for trial. One of the tire store employees picks McVeigh out of a line-up of look-alikes even before he sees McVeigh on television. The Washington Post of April 28 confirms the same:
For the next six weeks, John Doe No. 2 is the most hunted man in the world until, without explanation, he just kind of goes away. The fix is in – the mother of all political fixes ... the Mega Fix.
Next in the series: Mega Fix Preview Part 2: The Oklahoma City Aftermath
Purchase "Mega Fix: The Dazzling Political Deceit That Led to 9-11" now!
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.
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