Skip to comments.In Bombing At OU Stadium There Are More Questions Than Answers
Posted on 10/11/2005 6:44:58 AM PDT by JustaCowgirl
en days have passed since a 21-year-old University of Oklahoma engineering student was killed when a bomb he was carrying exploded 100 yards from the stadium where Oklahoma and Kansas State were playing football before a crowd of 84,000 and there are still more questions than answers to exactly What? and Why?
As The Oklahoman said in its October 9 edition, the explosion left Oklahomans wondering whether it was an individual suicide or if it was intended to be an act of terrorism targeting football fans October 1.
There is evidence the student, Joel Hinrichs III of Colorado, was a loner with a history of depression. However, it is still a mystery why officials were so quick to call it a suicide -- before a thorough investigation could be initiated.
The explosion occurred about 7:30 p.m., during the second quarter of the KSU-OU game. During the fourth quarter OU President David Boren informed the media that a student had apparently committed suicide by blowing himself up near the stadium. He asked fans at the stadium to remain calm and said no one was in danger.
How could he have been so sure? The FBI was just then starting interviews with some of Hinrichs neighbors and acquaintances. And the FBIs Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is said to be in charge, would not have had time to arrive in Norman.
Its also a mystery why the mainstream media outside Oklahoma has pretty much ignored the incident.
Days later the news media was obsessed with the story of a possible terror threat in New York City; and cable news outlets spent far too much time on a bomb threat that briefly closed the Washington Monument. But there was almost nothing about an actual bombing just 100 yards outside a college stadium full of people that could have been a terrorism incident gone awry. Did newspaper editors and TV news producers usually inquiring minds buy into Borens quick dismissal of the event as just a troubled youths suicide and ensuing FBI statements that investigators had found no evidence to prove it was something other than a suicide?
My inquiring mind wonders if Boren, a former U. S. Senator with great political skills, sought to cool media interest and keep reporters and cameras out of Norman. Remember: His announcement came barely 90 minutes after the incident.
I first heard about the incident late Saturday, October 1, when it was a breaking news item on FOX News.
The report said a bomb exploded near OUs stadium during a football game. There was a brief video showing police cars with lights flashing and an area cordoned off by yellow police tape.
I later checked the Omaha World-Heralds online edition and found no mention of the incident. If over the next few days it was listed in the index for online OWH stories I missed it; it was not listed as a headline story.
FOX never mentioned it again. I forgot about it until October 4, when a Washington D.C. website reported the FBI was investigating the bombing.
The website questioned why Boren was passing it off as a suicide.
The next day a second Washington website reported the bombing after being e-mailed reports from Oklahoma media. It felt a lot of information was contradictory and wondered why the eastern media wasnt on to the story. That was when I started to prepare the story that ran October 7 here in StatePaper.com [To access that column, click here.]
Lets go back to the beginning.
A longtime, good friend of mine and his wife, who reside in Oklahoma, were at the OU-KSU game. Their seats are in the northwest corner of the stadium, just ten rows up from the field. During the second quarter there was what my friend, Jim, called a loud boom. He said it seemed like everyone in the stadium turned and looked in the direction of that noise. He said people seated near them all assumed it was thunder since early evening showers had been forecast.
Jim said police officers were moving toward the exits, but that fans didnt pay any attention since officers often move around as they deal with unruly fans or medical emergencies.
As the second half began and people returned from concession stands and restrooms, word spread that police had sealed off exits on the stadiums west side, although they opened at the end of the game.
There was apparently no public address announcement. Jim said he learned about the explosion during the fourth quarter while listening to play-by-play on his radio headsets, and Borens statement was reported.
Its assumed word spread through the stadium as fans with radios informed people sitting around them. Jim said an area on the west side of the stadium was still cordoned off when they walked to their car after the game. There was little news about the explosion that night.
There have been conflicting reports about the explosion. One, which I repeated in my October 7 article, said the bomb was made of TATP, supposedly the same material used in the London subway bombings. I dont know what TATP is, but The Oklahoman has since quoted the youths father, Joel Hinrichs Jr., of Colorado Springs, as saying the FBI told him the bomb was made of hydrogen peroxide. Some reports, upon which I based my story, quoted witnesses as saying Hinrichs was carrying a large backpack. Still another report said the explosives were strapped to his body. We wont know for sure until the FBI or local coroner releases more information.
A bus driver told authorities, according to media reports, that shortly before the explosion he saw a young man fitting Hiurichs description stretched out on a bus stop bench staring into space.
Oklahoma media quoted witnesses who claimed they saw Hinrichs attempt to enter the stadium and run from the area when security guards tried to check his backpack, a report I included in my October 7 story.
OU now says the FBI reviewed security camera tapes from the stadium gates and found nothing to indicate Hinrichs tried to enter. Although no one said it did, the university has also said it did not sell an OU-KSU game ticket to Hinrichs.
The university also said it had heard nothing to indicate Hinrichs attempted to buy a ticket from scalpers outside the stadium. None of that, of course, means Hinrichs did not have a ticket to the game.
According to The Oklahoman, Norman Police confirmed that on September 26 Hinrichs attempted to buy aluminum nitrate from a Norman feed store. Aluminum nitrate was used in the bombs at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 and the World Trade Center in 1993. Hinrichs comments to the stores manager raised the suspicions of an off-duty police officer who was in the store and overheard the conversation. He wrote down the license plate number on Hinrichs car. Hinrichs died before a formal investigation could be made.
So far, the FBI has not identified the type of explosives found in Hinrichs apartment.
FBI agents questioned Hinrichs neighbors shortly after the October 1 explosion and searched his apartment on October 2, removing the cache of explosives and what The Oklahoman called other material. Hinrichs building and three neighboring buildings in the university-owned apartment complex were cordoned off by police until the explosives were removed.
An Internet news magazine is reporting that the search warrant used to search Hinrichs apartment has been sealed by a federal court at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. If true, that raises serious questions.
The magazine quotes a Bob Troester, identified as an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, as saying to a reporter: You can draw whatever you like. We dont comment on any sealed indictment. The magazine wonders what he meant. Did he simply misspeak, meaning to say warrant? If he did mean theres a sealed indictment that would mean that living people are about to be charged with a crime.
Speculation is running wild in Oklahoma (and at some Internet websites) that Hinrichs was involved with Muslim students from foreign countries, that he probably did intend to blow himself up inside the stadium but was deterred by the presence of security guards, that after leaving the stadium he either detonated the bomb to kill himself or it went off accidentally.
Hinrichs roommate, first reported to be a Pakistani, which I included in my October 7 story, has also been identified as a Palestinian. He and three other Muslim students were taken into custody shortly after the explosion. They were questioned and released.
I also wrote October 7 that an Oklahoma City television station reported that Hinrichs had been attending the same Norman mosque attended by convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. However, a number of Muslim students and an Arab professor have since denied ever seeing Hinrichs at the mosque.
The day after the explosion, the FBI said it has no information that suggests that there is any additional threat posed by others related to this incident.
The FBI said on October 4 that it had found no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization or activities. On October 6 OU President Boren said authorities have so far found no evidence of a conspiracy and cautioned the university community against any rush to judgment based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
Joel Hinrichs Jr. said his son had been treated previously for severe depression and dropped out of OU in 2003-2004. Classmates said the young man was a loner, dressed strangely and seemed concerned recently about his grades.
The dead students father added that his son had a fascination with explosives; that at the age of 13 or 14 made a bomb out of match heads and a tube. He also used to buy artillery shells on ebay.
However, Hinrichs Jr. also told The Oklahoman he had not observed any suicidal tendencies in his son. In fact, he added, in the last e-mail he received from his son on September 14, the young man anticipated getting a Subaru the elder Hinrichs was offering to him.
We may never know for sure what happened. Or why.
Suicide usually occurs in private, but Oklahoma mental health professionals are now wondering if Hinrichs was motivated to bring attention to his death.
I have a theory well, actually a question in my mind.
If Hinrichs was a convert to Islam and associated with militant Muslim extremists in a terrorist attack at a Midwest university, it would not take the FBI very long to put the pieces together. Because of his roommate, Hinrichs was likely acquainted with Muslim students, some of whom could have had ties to a terrorist group. I wonder if they knew about his interest and apparent expertise -- in explosives; and if they learned he was depressed and suicidal, whether they might have befriended the troubled youth, who had trouble making friends, and manipulated him into committing suicide in a big way inside a crowded football stadium. I wonder if, as he approached the stadium, his conscience caused him to have second thoughts, he turned away, stretched out on the bus bench to think it over, and either killed himself or died when the bomb detonated accidentally.
The FBI left itself a lot of wiggle room by simply saying it has not found anything or has no evidence that it might have been more than a suicide.
Even Boren has backed off from his initial insistence that it was an individual suicide and, because Oklahoma law allows only a coroner to make that determination, later clarified his statement to individual death. And, as noted above, Boren has urged the university community to remain calm and not rush to judgment, as he recognizes the investigation has not been completed.
Meanwhile, the university announced that security will be increased at its football stadium.
Article is a good summary of the current state of affairs.
Well, that's good to know. If there are suicide bombers in a crowded place, the first priority will be to convince the media and public that terrorism is not a factor.
How one in authority can make a proclamation like Boren without an investigation is beyond me.
Well... if it is still a very crowded place (as the OU football stadium was), are you suggesting that authorities should release a statement that could set off a panic and possible stampede?
I agree, handling the situation during the game was done well. The crowd needs to be kept calm. However, that's no reason to bury it AFTER the game. There's no reason they couldn't talk it about in great detail the next morning. The stadium was empty, there'd be no stampedes.
This situation just goes along with what I have been thinking for a while and that is (and I could be wrong) statistically think about this.
How many explosions have there been just this last year at oil refineries? How many derailments of trains have there been this past year? How many explosions have there been in chemical plants around the country this year? How many explosions in paint factories this year?
All and I mean All have not been explained to the public or any information given out as to what has caused these destructions. No follow up information has been given out on any of these.
Only recently has these things happen all in one year and in the past a person would hardly hear any of this happening maybe one incident in a three or four year time frame.
Something to think about.
If terrorist are behind any of this, would it be wise to let the public know? How much panic would there be?
Did media "buy into" Borens quick dismissal of the event?Could be that's the case,but i'm inclined to think the msm suspects as many of us do,that: 1)H was probably a convert to islam 2)This was an attempted terror attack that(fortunately)backfired on the perp.
a good summary, but missing a couple of points.
1. Boren declared that Hinrichs did not try to enter the stadium long before there was any way he could have known that. In fact, I would presume that it would be nearly impossible to prove that someone did NOT try to enter. Proving that someone DID try to enter would be much easier. For example, if I tried to get in, and people saw me and remembered me, that would make a pretty good case. How can you expect every single ticket taker to be absolutely sure that a particular person did NOT try to get in at his gate? Totally ridiculous.
2. The article states that people are speculating that "he either detonated the bomb to kill himself or it went off accidentally." There is at least one more possibility: that someone else detonated the bomb, probably remotely.
"How many explosions have there been just this last year at oil refineries? How many derailments of trains have there been this past year? How many explosions have there been in chemical plants around the country this year? How many explosions in paint factories this year? "
I'll bite, how many?
I haven't heard of any of these...
You are prolly right tho.
Bumping for a good summary of the OU Bombing story. PKM, thought you should see this!
That's my problem -- during the game it was handled well except the part where we were padlocked in which I didn't know at the time or I would have felt panic. After the incident when it was found out his roommate was working for the Athletic Department and Boren ran out immediately with his depressed, suicide theory, then everyone should have been questioning.
David Boren should be on the poster for the see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil when it comes to Islamic Middle Eastern students which has documented on the net along with some other background which has been sourced and sourced again.
"According to The Oklahoman, Norman Police confirmed that on September 26 Hinrichs attempted to buy aluminum nitrate from a Norman feed store. Aluminum nitrate..."
Something new about ANFO I missed?
Our local media has a lot "off the record" they cannot report. Boren is covering but he should have kept his mouth shut because his past history is now coming out and spreading across the State. Kids are now talking to their parents. Know mine tried to tell me about Boren this summer and I didn't believe it -- I told them I WAS WRONG and they were right after researching this past week.
There sure are a lot of "depressed lone suicide bombers" around right now.
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