Skip to comments.How Normal Is Norman?
Posted on 01/11/2006 7:27:58 PM PST by concretebob
Norman, Oklahoma (population 100,923), is as American heartland as it gets. So on October 1, 2005, when Joel Hinrichs III, a 21-year-old Colorado Springs, Colorado engineering student at the University of Oklahoma strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up outside the college stadium where 84,000 fans were watching a Saturday-night football game, thus earning the town the distinction as home to America's first suicide bomber, I was, well, curious. Within 24 hours of the event, three players in the unfolding story issued statements aimed at quashing rumors that the bombing was terrorist related.
University President David Boren, in letters to students, faculty and staff, focused on allaying security fears and not drawing inferences from the rumors: Just because Hinrichs blew himself up with TATP (an ingredient that is the hallmark of Middle Eastern terrorists' bombs), and just because Hinrichs' roommate, Fazal Cheema, was a foreign student from Pakistan, no inferences to Islamic terrorism should be made. "We should not judge others or jump to conclusions on the basis of color, race, gender, economic status or freely exercised religious beliefs," Boren wrote.
The FBI confirmed that a second cache of TATP explosives was found inside the apartment Hinrichs and Cheema shared. The bomb squad removed the lethal ingredients and exploded them off campus; according to a witness I interviewed, the explosion was heard five miles away. As to the suggestion of a larger terror plot, the Feds were firm: "At this time, there is no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization(s) or activities."
Because of Hinrichs' Pakistani roommate, newspaper reporters questioned whether there was a Muslim connection. Mohammad Elyazgi, a spokesman for the Masjid An-Nur Islamic mosque in Norman, addressed journalists who asked if Hinrichs, whose photo in newspapers showed him sporting a beard, had recently converted to Islam. "We had never seen him until we saw his picture in the media," Elyazgi told reporters.
Elyazgi shared stories with the press about the racism that he, his family and other Muslims in Norman felt after 9/11 -- how he kept his "children at home for several days" for fear of retaliation. Elyazgi talked about the "chills" he felt when Hinrichs' bomb went off, how a "silent prayer" went through him, and how he hoped no one would "associate the incident with the Norman mosque." Elyazgi underscored Islam's commitment to pacifism: "Islam forbids suicide, and Muslims condemn all acts of violence."
Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar As I began investigating the suicide bombing in Norman, I was reminded by my editors of the Freudian adage: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a death-by-suicide bombing is just that. But this Freud/cigar idea got me thinking: Maybe sometimes a credential is just a credential. How do we know to believe the messengers? University President Boren is well credentialed (a former Governor of Oklahoma, a former U.S. Senator and former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), and the FBI has its own unique credentials. But who is Mohammad Elyazgi? What achievements, personal qualities and background activities lend him credence?
In investigating Elyazgi's credentials, I was referred to and spoke with Mitchell Gray, a Norman resident and immigration attorney. Gray -- a former Operation Desert Storm JAG officer and Arabic speaker -- has been working on a book about extreme Muslims in America who disguise themselves as moderates. I asked Gray about Elyazgi, and Gray said, "Mr. Elyazgi and his family have made themselves public figures. They wear the cloak of officialdom. It's time Mr. Elyazgi officially explains his close ties to terrorists." Gray provided me with some interesting public-record documents in which Elyazgi's name has appeared.
To give Mr. Elyazgi an opportunity to respond to the documents, I called him at his office in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. I asked him if he stood personally by the statement he made on behalf of the mosque: "Islam forbids suicide, and Muslims condemn all acts of violence."
"Of course," he said.
I asked him to explain his relationship to a man named Mufid Abdulqader. I had reviewed 1995 court documents that list Elyazgi and Abdulqader as co-owners of Sinbad Greek & International Food in Oklahoma and as co-defendants on fraud and failure to pay charges (Case No.: CJ95 2176-66).
"You mean Mufid?" he asked.
"Yes, Mufid Abdulqader," I repeated.
"We're just friends."
"So you don't have a business relationship with Mufid Abdulqader?" I asked.
"No, no business relationship," he stated emphatically.
I told him about the documents I had in front of me.
Elyazgi changed his tune. He also seemed to lose his grip on the English language. "Me and him were together in business. In small shop."
I asked Elyazgi to comment on his former business partner's indictment on terrorism charges.
"He's a normal person," Elyazgi said. "He's an activist."
Abdulqader, who formerly worked for the Department of Transportation in Oklahoma and later in Texas, was recently indicted on terrorism charges for being a fundraiser for HAMAS (a Palestinian Islamist movement), one of the most violent jihadist terrorist organizations in the world.
Why Isn't Norman Newsworthy? Throughout 2005, suicide bombings were daily news. In the same month that Hinrichs exploded himself, 19 suicide bombers around the world killed 180 people and injured another 420 -- in supermarkets and restaurants and houses of worship, according to statistics offered by a website called www.thereligionofpeace.com. Those suicide bombers became news -- headline news. And yet the suicide bombing in Norman caused hardly a ripple in the media.
Norman, Oklahoma, is mentioned in the intelligence report prepared by the House and the Senate on the 9/11 terrorist attacks; this report, which Congress has declassified, references known terrorists' activities in Norman, Oklahoma, no less than 17 times. In examining this and other U.S. government documents, a disturbing portrait emerges: Norman, Oklahoma, has been associated with terrorist activity ever since Osama Bin Laden's personal pilot, Mohamed Ihab Ali, went to Norman to take flying lessons back in 1993.
It's true, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But sometimes, when you peel away the layers, you find something else.
Annie Jacobsen, author of Terror in the Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again, writes about business, finance and terrorism for a variety of national and international magazines and webzines. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and two sons.
If you would like to send Annie Jacobsen an email, please click HERE.
I live in Norman which is about 20-25 minutes south from downtown OKC depending on which side of town you live. Looks like the resettlement of the Iraqi Guard after Gulf War I also brought some terrorists to the area with others joining them in the 1993 time frame from around the Country according to what I have heard since living here. After 9-11, Moussaouri shined the spotlight on Norman and the rest of the terrorist scum leading up to this lone, depressed bomber that supposedly wanted to blow up a stadium but he didn't want to hurt anyone according to his Dad. And his roommate just happened to have a ticket back to Pakistan for the next morning and didn't see any bomb making going on in the apartment.
This sounds like fiction except it was real. Never going to convince me that this kid committed suicide -- never, ever but also know that the whole story is not likely to come out in the near future anymore then we are likely to get the whole story on the Murrah Bombing anytime soon.
Know there is a lot more going on then was reported and for sanity sake have to believe there was a reason for the spin.
Everytime I learn more I just shake my head at how close we came to a complete disaster and Thank God that this kid blew up.
May have missed it, but last I heard they had not released the body and the DNA tests were not back. I know I had a lot of company during Christmas but I don't remember hearing anything about that. Maybe someone else has heard.
All I know is that we have surveillance cameras at the stadium and around campus from Fed and State Grants that were approved and video installed in less than two weeks -- that never happens with the Feds or State Government.
The real problems started IMHO after the resettlement of Iraqi Republican Guard after Gulf War I. According to my neighbor, it started with a few and then grew as they came in from other parts of the Country.
The Iranians I know here are really nice people and have assimilated into Oklahoma.
BINGO! I agree with you 100%!
Actually I have an Iranian in-law down in Houston. Very civilized, like most of the Iranians who have come to
America to settle. No doubt the Iranian terrorists have inserted a few people here too, but most Iranians still think of themselves as belonging to an older civilization and do not identify with the Arabs.
"Elyazgi underscored Islam's commitment to pacifism: "Islam forbids suicide, and Muslims condemn all acts of violence."
Well, that's a relief. I was starting to get worried.
We have a good friend whose family barely escaped when the Shah fell -- he was already here in the States with his Mom and sister but other family members barely made it out.
He is as Texan as any native born Texan I know.
"There is much more to this story but when you cannot get two sources on record, the story dies."
How have you been, PhiKapMom? Those fires aren't affecting you, are they?
It honestly sounds like Annie Jacobsen has been reading our own voluminous set of threads on the topic here on FR, from back in the fall, doesn't it?
Remember how the Norman PD, as well as Boren, seemed to be reacting to the FR commentary? Odd, wasn't it? And "Scoobie," lol. What a goofball.
May I suggest you let go of your conspiracy theory...there is more than sufficient evidence that those responsible for OKC were caught and punished...
I thought they were reacting to FR threads as well! That part was funny because by trying to get out in front a lot of missteps were made by Pres Boren IMHO.
We haven't had any fires (so far) here in Cleveland County. Most of the fires have been caused by people throwing out cigarette butts or being even dumber by taking charcoal ashes and putting them in the grass. Have only seen the smoke from one fire and that was about 20 miles or more north of us. We have been very fortunate here and the snow we had the other night did help here.
I am with you -- nothing going to change my mind either about the OKC Bombing.
"We have been very fortunate here and the snow we had the other night did help here."
Glad to hear it. Too bad this got started so late, it's nearly midnight here ... I'm going to have to call it a night, and check back in the morning.
Oh, and I forgot to look ... did anybody ping LibertyRocks, MizSterious or the rest of that early Norman Bomber ping list? I'm sure they'd still be interested.
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