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The Middle Eastern Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing

Rohhbacher Report, Nichols Declaration
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Editor's note: This is the second article in a two-part series. For a fuller understanding of what follows, read the first article, Terry Nichols Talks.

Posted: February 27, 2007
© Jack Cashill

by Jack Cashill

In his court declaration of February 17, convicted bomber Terry Nichols denies any “Philippine connection” to the Oklahoma City bombing.

In that he portrays himself as an intimidated and unwitting dupe of Timothy McVeigh, one would expect a denial of this sort. For it was he, not McVeigh, who had made the five documented trips to the Philippines.

In the December 2006 report by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Internationals Relations Committee, chairman Dana Rohrbacher presents ample evidence that Nichols is lying, citing “the many reasons to believe that there might have been a foreign connection.”

What is more, Nichols himself strongly suggests that McVeigh had sophisticated help constructing the bomb in Oklahoma by persons unknown to Nichols. The Rohrbacher report makes a strong case that these helpers may well have been Iraqi nationals in Oklahoma City.

The report begins with a credible explanation of the “mindset” that may have caused the Oklahoma City investigation to go awry. “God I hope there’s no Middle Eastern connection to this,” President Bill Clinton told Oklahoma governor Frank Keating just hours after the April 19, 1995, bombing, and these the first words out of his mouth.

Although the Rohrbacher report restricts itself to Oklahoma City, this same mindset in this same desperate 1995-1996 election cycle deformed the investigations into the Olympic Park bombing, the downing of TWA Flight 800, the Khobar Towers bombing, and possibly even the plane crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown on his way from Bosnia to Croatia.

That all five of these investigations proved highly controversial is due less to any paranoia of the opposition than to a demonstrable pattern of behavior by the Clinton administration.

The Philippines

According to the Rohrbacher report, Nichols began traveling to the Philippines in August 1990. He was involved with a shady American, who was running a cross between a mail order bride business and a prostitution ring.

Nichols met future wife, Marife Torres, on that August visit. They were married in November of that same year, and a short time later Marife showed up in the United States pregnant with another man’s child.

On that same first trip, Nichols began inquiring about assistance in building a bomb. His tour guide offered a sworn statement to the police to that effect. “Nichols interest in bomb making during his trips to the Philippines,” notes the Rohrbacher report, “raises some doubt about whether he was genuinely there for a wife.”

Nichols left for his final trip to the Philippines in November 1994. He brought with him a book entitled The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives. Before leaving he left a sealed note for his American ex-wife and instructed her to open it in case he did not return. The envelope contained $20,000.

When asked by the House Subcommittee why he feared for his life and where the money came from, Nichols provided answers that “were not credible.” The Rohrbacher report adds, “Nichols’ skills as a terrorist seem to have grown in the Philippines.”

Nichols met his wife in Cebu City, a hotbed of Islamic terrorist activity. Reportedly, Marife ran in the same disco circles as a fellow named “Khan,” whom the Rohrbacher report speculates may well have been master bomber Wali Khan, later convicted on plotting to blow up U.S. airliners and now housed in the same Colorado supermax prison as Nichols.

Khan refused to speak to the Subcommittee investigators. The presence of Khan and other colleagues—Ramzi Yousef most notably—in the same prison where Nichols is housed may also help explain Nichols’ discretion on the Philippines question.

Yousef was the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing and the architect of the Bojinka bombing plot for which Khan would also be convicted. As the Rohrbacher report makes clear, there is “no doubt” that Nichols and Yousef were both in Cebu City in November and early December 1994.

According to the report, Yousef, in the months before the first WTC bombing, also made several phone calls to a Queens, New York row house in which a cousin of Marife’s then lived. This was the same cousin with whom Nichols and Marife had stayed during their previous visit to Cebu City.

On December 8, 1994, Yousef moved into a Manila apartment complex and began assembling his bombs. On January 6, 1995, a fire broke out in the apartment. Yousef fled, but his co-conspirator, Abdul Hakim Murad, was arrested, and the Bojinka plans were seized.

On that same January day, Nichols “inexplicably” changed the travel plans he had recently made and “hastily departed” the Philippines. “All this,” notes the Rohrbacher report, “justifiably leads to speculation that the Bojinka plot may have been tied to a more grandiose scheme”—one that included a coordinated attack on the American homeland.

John Doe #2

As is well enough known, McVeigh rented a Ryder truck from a Junction City, Kansas body shop two days before the bombing. By the day after the bombing, employees at the body shop had helped the FBI sketch artists produce likenesses of “John Doe #1” and “John Doe #2,” the two men who rented the truck.

John Doe #1 looked quite like McVeigh and proved to be him. The search for the shorter, swarthier John Doe #2 was terminated just two months later after the FBI decided that the body shop employees had been mistaken. These employees continue to insist they saw two men despite the fact that FBI had “aggressively pressured” them to change their story.

In his declaration, Nichols credibly insists that he was not with McVeigh when he rented the truck. Nor does he “know the identities of the individuals seen with McVeigh” either at the body shop or on the day of the bombing. He strongly suggests, however, that there were other individuals.

So does the Rohrbacher report: “There are multiple witnesses in Oklahoma City who placed Timothy McVeigh with another person at the scene of the bombing.” In every case, the descriptions of this person “closely resembles” John Doe #2. As the report also observes, the only question McVeigh had failed on his polygraph was whether he had additional help with the bombing.

The report approvingly cites the work of intrepid Oklahoma City reporter Jayna Davis, who identified an Iraqi national named Hussain Al-Hussaini as the man who was with McVeigh on the morning of the bombing. As the report notes, Al-Hussaini resembles John Doe #2, witnesses placed him at the scene, and the alibi he offered in a civil deposition was “contradictory and unconvincing.”

More troubling is that Al-Hussaini’s employer in Oklahoma City was a Palestinian named Samir Khalil. On the published list of un-indicted coconspirators from the first WTC bombing is a man named Samir Khalil. The Justice Department, however, has not and will not explain whether this was one and the same person. Nor, incredibly, has any federal investigator interviewed Al-Hussaini.

The Rohrbacher report, like the contemporaneous House report on the Sandy Berger affair, is a study in suppressed rage. At every step, House investigators are blocked by federal officials with long institutional memories and/or strong Democratic sympathies.


President Clinton’s prayers seem to have been answered. As soon as Timothy McVeigh was apprehended – just three months after the Republicans had taken control of both houses of congress – the major media seized on the angry, white “right-wing” McVeigh as the inevitable consequence of the "Republican revolution" and its primary organ, "hate radio."

"Words have consequences," Clinton piously intoned. The media echoed the refrain. They had little interest in finding the "others unknown" who were likely involved in the bombing, especially if those others were “Middle Eastern.”

Such a revelation would only obscure the clarity of the image they had already presented to America. Their collective failure to pursue obvious leads was as shocking and unprecedented as the Justice Department’s. The media and Justice would repeat this pattern on several more major investigations before the November 1996 election, none more egregiously that in the case of TWA Flight 800.

As to President Clinton, he never looked back. He proved masterly at manipulating the victims' families and massaging his own ratings. With the media's help, he climbed above 50 percent public approval at Oklahoma City for the first time in ages and never fell below again. The Republican revolution was buried in the rubble, and a politically revived Bill Clinton understood how and why.

This all would have made for some great political story swapping years down the road—if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate events on September 11 th..

See previous article
See Nichols' affidavit

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