I was born in Northeastern Oklahoma. But my family first left there when I was 6 years old. After I did Elementary School on the south Oregon coast, we were back in Oklahoma for just a short period when I was in 6th and 7th grades. But, I haven’t lived in my childhood home area since 1962.
I finished Junior High and High School and wandered the smoggy streets of West Los Angeles until I joined the U.S. Air Force at the height of the Vietnam era. Even though I wasn’t in Oklahoma, Oklahoma always has been and still is in me. Hawaii has now been home for many years, but my roots are still in Oklahoma’s Green Country.
On April 19, 1995 I was working here in Honolulu. It was from a good friend and co-worker who was also from Oklahoma that I first heard what had happened in Oklahoma City that day. Just saying it was a shock would be very much an understatement.
That was the day after my aunt had passed away down in Humble, Texas. My parents drove from their home in Northern California for her funeral. The 19th was a Wednesday and the following Saturday, I flew to join them in the Houston area.
I mention that because I would have certainly been able to more closely follow the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing if loss in the family had not happened concurrently. Remember, this was before we had internet and smartphones 24×7.
I found out from my cousin in Oklahoma that her adult daughter had been scheduled for an appointment there at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9 a.m. on April 19, 1995, but it had been cancelled. I hesitate to say it was through the grace of God, because only God knows why young toddlers were killed that day at their preschool. It just wasn’t my cousin’s time to go.
I don’t want to go into things that are already well documented about that tragedy. It was the 2nd anniversary of the ATF raid at Waco, Texas under Attorney General Janet Reno and President Bill Clinton. Timothy McVeigh was a sick man and we won’t go into his own perverse rationalizations.
I do however want to say a few things about his accomplice Terry Nichols. The FBI immediately dismissed any kind of conspiracy theory with international ramifications. But that’s typical FBI speak.
Terry Nichols wife was Filipina. He traveled at least twice to the Philippines in the early 1990s within just a few years before what happened at OKC. 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [KSM] was there during the same time span plotting Operation Bojinka which would have taken down multiple jumbo-jets over the Pacific Ocean and would have assassinated Pope John Paul II in Manila as a distraction and prelude.
Their concurrent presence in the Philippines is factual. Whether they were actually in the same place at the same time is something our American law enforcement and intelligence agencies don’t want to talk about.
There is absolutely no evidence, and it is not prudent to conclude, that either Terry Nichols or Timothy McVeigh was a convert to Islam or that OKC was an act of jihad. Such does not appear to be the case.
But it is reasonable to consider that Terry Nichols could have learned the art of bomb-making from KSM and/or Ramzi Yousef in the Philippines.
Today, we see Mexican drug cartels in cahoots with Islamic terrorists and learning methodology even though they do not share ideology. We see Communist North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran cooperating with one another against mutual enemies.
Timothy McVeigh hated the U.S. government. Whether Terry Nichols was a co-planner or just accomplice isn’t the issue now. KSM also hates the U.S. government. I say that in present tense. McVeigh was executed but KSM is still in Guantanamo. He’s so evil that even Obama wouldn’t release him.
The tragedy in Oklahoma City 24 years ago today is very personal to many good people who lost family and friends there. A professional colleague of mine was friends with one of the two U.S. Customs agents who died there on that dismal day, Claude Arthur Medearis. The other slain agent was Paul D. Ice.
But we must learn lessons from these horrific attacks. One such lesson is that domestic terrorism and international terrorism are not always mutually exclusive.
McVeigh is in hell as Nichols and KSM await their turn. But there are many more with evil in their hearts both within and beyond our borders who would do us all harm. Today, social media facilitates identification of those with common objectives. Physically crossing borders isn’t always necessary for them to communicate and conspire.
As we remember all those who died in Oklahoma City nearly a quarter-century ago and their families who still grieve, let us be circumspect of dangers that lie ahead. Today, national news is hung up on the Mueller report and politicians are trying to use it against one another.
OKC symbolizes terror. So now also does Christchurch. If we’re unprepared, another city will soon join that unenviable list of terror symbols. Will it be your hometown? Don’t let that happen! We all need to take a deep breath and focus on things that really matter.
My letter of condolences written from Hawaii to Oklahoma Today Magazine was published in their special issue entitled “The Official Record of the Oklahoma City Bombing”. I still have a copy available but cannot locate it in a timely manner today. I just spent a considerable amount of time researching the Oklahoma Today online archives, but this issue is not included. It apparently was published as a book in its own right in 2005 and can be ordered from Amazon.
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