Oklahoma city bombing conspiracy theories

A variety of conspiracy theories have been proposed regarding the Oklahoma City bombing. These theories reject all or part of the official government report. Some of these theories focus on the possibility of additional, unindicted co-conspirators or additional explosives planted inside the Murrah Federal building. Other theories allege that government employees and officials, including US President Bill Clinton, knew of the impending bombing and intentionally failed to act on that knowledge. Government investigations have been opened at various times to look into the theories.

Oklahoma City Bombing

Main article: Oklahoma City bombing

At 9:02 a.m. CST April 19, 1995, a Ryder rental truck containing more than 6,200 pounds (2,800 kg)[1] of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture was detonated in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.[2] The attack claimed 168 lives and left over 800 people injured.[3]

Shortly after the explosion, Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hanger stopped 26-year-old Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate, arresting him for that offense and for unlawfully carrying a weapon.[4] Within days, McVeigh's old army friend Terry Nichols was arrested and both men were charged with committing the bombing. Investigators determined that they were sympathizers of a militia movement and that their motive was to retaliate against the government's handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents (the bombing occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco incident). McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001 while Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

Although the indictment against McVeigh and Nichols alleged that they conspired with "others unknown to the grand jury", prosecutors, and later McVeigh himself, said the bombing was solely the work of McVeigh and Nichols. In this scenario, the two obtained fertilizer and other explosive materials over a period of months, and then assembled the bomb in Kansas the day prior to its detonation. After assembly, McVeigh alone drove the truck to Oklahoma City, lit the fuse and fled in a getaway car he had parked in the area days prior.

Additional conspirators

Several witnesses reported seeing a second person around the time of the bombing, which investigators would later call "John Doe 2".[5] In 1997, the FBI arrested Michael Brescia, a member of Aryan Republican Army who resembled an artist's rendering of John Doe 2 based on the eyewitness accounts. However, they later released him, reporting that their investigation had indicated he was not involved with the bombing.[6] One reporter for The Washington Post reflected on the fact that a John Doe 2 has never been found: "Maybe he'll (John Doe 2) be captured and convicted someday. If not, he'll remain eternally at large, the one who got away, the mystery man at the center of countless conspiracy theories. It's possible that he never lived. It's likely that he'll never die."[6]

There are several theories that McVeigh and Nichols had a possible foreign connection or co-conspirators.[7][8] This was due to the fact that Terry Nichols traveled through the Philippines while terrorist mastermind Ramzi Yousef of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was planning his Project Bojinka plot in Manila.[7][9] Ramzi Yousef also placed the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing inside a rented Ryder van, the same rental company used by McVeigh, indicating a possible foreign link to Al-Qaeda.[10] Other theories link McVeigh with Islamic terrorists, the Japanese government and German neo-Nazis.[11][12]

There has also been speculation that an unmatched leg found at the bombing site may have belonged to an unidentified, additional bomber.[13] It was claimed that this bomber was either in the building when the bombing occurred, or had previously been murdered, and McVeigh had left his body in the back of the Ryder truck to hide the body in the explosion.[14][15]

Additional explosives

One theory focuses on a cover-up of the existence of additional explosives planted within the Murrah building.[16] The theory focuses on the local news channels reporting the existence of a second and third bomb within the first few hours of the explosion.[16][17][18] Conspiracy theorists say that there are several discrepancies, such as an inconsistency between the observed destruction and the bomb used by McVeigh. Theorists point to nearby seismographs that recorded two tremors from the bombing, believing it to indicate two bombs had been used.[19] Experts dispute this, stating that the first tremor was a result of the bomb, while the second was due to the collapse of the building.[11][19][20]

US federal government involvement

Another theory alleged that President Bill Clinton had either known about the bombing in advance or had approved the bombing.[21][22] It is also believed that the bombing was done by the government to frame the militia movement or enact antiterrorism legislation while using McVeigh as a scapegoat.[11][21][22][23] Still other theories claim that McVeigh conspired with the US CIA in plotting the bombing.[11][12]


In 2006, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, (Republican, California), said that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, which he chaired, would investigate whether the Oklahoma City bombers had assistance from foreign sources.[10] On December 28, 2006, when asked about fueling conspiracy theories with his questions and criticism, Rohrabacher told CNN: "There's nothing wrong with adding to a conspiracy theory when there might be a conspiracy, in fact."[24] In March 2007, Danny Coulson, who served as deputy assistant director of FBI at the time of attacks, voiced his concerns and called for reopening of investigation.[25]

On September 28, 2009, Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, released security tapes that he obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act that show the Murrah building before and after the blast from four security cameras. The tapes are blank at points before 9:02 am, the time of detonation. Trentadue said that the government's explanation for the missing footage is that the tape was being replaced at the time. Said Trentadue, "Four cameras in four different locations going blank at the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence."[26][27] Trentadue became interested in the case when his brother, Kenneth Michael Trentadue, died in federal custody during what Trentadue believes was an interrogation because Kenneth was mistaken for a possible conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing.[28]

See also


  • Crothers, Lane. Rage on the Right: The American Milita Movement from Ruby Ridge to Homeland Security. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. ISBN 0-7425-2546-5.
  • Hamm, Mark S. Apocalypse in Oklahoma: Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55553-300-0.
  • Hamm, Mark S. In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2002. ISBN 1-55553-492-9.
  • Israel, Peter, Jones, Stephen. Others Unknown: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy. New York: PublicAffairs, 2001. ISBN 978-1-58648-098-1.
  • Knight, Peter. Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. ISBN 1-57607-812-4.
  • Stickney, Brandon M. All-American Monster: The Unauthorized Biography of Timothy McVeigh. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. ISBN 1-57392-088-6.
  • Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8223-4103-4.

Further reading

External links

  • The Opinions of General Partin and Other Bomb Experts
  • The Oklahoma City Bombing at What Really Happened
  • The Oklahoma City Bombing: A Morass of Unanswered Questions
  • - A documentary that explores credible witness testimony that was videotaped during the day of the bombing as well as evidence that contradicts the government's official story surrounding the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • - 9/11 Practice
  • Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.


  • grahamphoto5ca.jpg - Taken shortly after the blast.
  • Photo 10 - Series of photos from Oklahoma State University showing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building before and during its demolition.
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