Nineteen years after the devastating Oklahoma City Bombing, committed by Timothy McVeigh, the memories of the domestic terrorist attack still remain fresh to those who were affected by the incident. On April 19, 1995, at 9:02 AM, Timothy McVeigh, utilized a bomb that co-conspirator Terry Nichols helped prepare, to blow up a Ryder rental truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. As a result of the attack 168 citizens were killed, and 324 buildings were damaged.
My grandfather, Mason Everett Newkirk, used to work at the first level of the Alfred P. Murrah building. At the time of the blast, Mason was conducting a delivery on behalf of the company and was a safe distance from the blast zone. While my grandfather was unharmed from the attack, he lost three dear friends of his that he used to work with, and other co-workers whose lives were lost.
In January 2014, I flew out to the Will Rogers World Airport, in Oklahoma City, so that I could go to my cousin Jonathan Moore’s wedding at the Norman Conference Center. The day before the wedding I decided to go with my uncle Steve Moore to visit the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum for our first time.
The entrance level of the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum goes into great detail of how architect Wendell Locke designed a building, named after former federal judge Alfred P. Murrah in the early 1970’s. Construction for the building was complete in 1977, and within fifteen years the Alfred P. Murrah building was host to the Social Security Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
One level of the museum shows events that occurred right before the blast. Another level of the building shows the direct aftermath. What fascinated me was how a bathroom, that was part of the Alfred P. Murrah building, was kept intact for visitors to see. Within the bathroom, the concrete rubble was on the floor, and a window is still in place so that one can look outside of the building the same way those who used to work in that building had done so.
Another level of the museum outlines a 1993 incident in which ATF agents laid siege, for two months, on a compound held by members of a militant Christian group called the Branch Davidians. Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh, stood watch outside of the compound to observe the actions of the ATF agents. On April 19, 1993, after part of the compound was accidentally burnt down by ATF agents, after the use of tear gas that is known to cause fires, McVeigh developed further anti-government sentiments and plotted to commit a terrorist attack exactly a year later.
Additionally, Timothy McVeigh was influenced by past publications, such as William Luther Pierce’s novel the Turner Diaries, which warned of an impending race war in the near future soon after governments placed bans on firearms. The race war, as described in the novel, involved the use of atomic weapons to allow the Aryan race to achieve world domination. Timothy’s militant anti-government sentiments were greatly influenced by Neo-Nazi views that he held, and was reinforced by those he was acquainted with.
While at the museum, I saw the raw emotion of individuals who looked at the pictures of Timothy McVeigh that day. One individual placed a middle finger in front of Timothy’s picture and cried. Out of grief, anger toward McVeigh is ongoing after his death.
Directly outside of the Murray building there is 168 benches, one bench to represent every individual who was killed that day. Nineteen of those benches represent children who were lost. There are different levels of benches, which represent how many were killed on each floor of the building, with the first floor having the highest number of benches.
Near the benches is what is called the, “Survivor Tree.” After the blast, the tree next to the Alfred P. Murrah building lost all of its leaves. The tree was set to be cut down, but within months the tree showed signs of growth and has been blossoming every year since the attack occurred.
However, the possibility of additional collaborators pertaining to the Murrah building bomb blot, is not presented in the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum. Jayna Davis, an investigative reporter for the television station KFOR in Oklahoma City, did a series of investigative reports in which she presented a number of eyewitnesses who said that there was a third terrorist involved in the bombing of the Murrah building. Hussain Hashem Al-Hussani, an Iraqi man, has been identified, via several documents, as the third terrorist.
Hussain Hashem Al-Hussani disputed the allegations of Davis and KFOR and actually filed two defamation lawsuits, one in state court and one in federal court. Both defamation cases were dismissed without going to trial. In a book by Davis entitledThe Third Terrorist: TheMiddle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing, former Central Intelligence Agency Director R. James Woolsey stated:
This fascinating product of Jayna Davis’s near-decade of brave, thorough, and dogged investigative reporting effectively shifts the burden of proof to those who would still contend that McVeigh and Nichols executed the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing without the support of a group or groups from the Middle East.
The FBI, years after the terrorist attack, has repeatedly refused to comment on the evidence produced by Davis.
Despite ongoing controversies related to the third terrorist involved with the Oklahoma City bombings, we need to stand united as Americans to condemn evil acts and those who continue to advocate future acts of domestic terrorism. Twenty years on, I pray for those who lost loved ones in the Oklahoma City Bombing, and I will continue to keep those who have been affected by the attack on my mind.
This article was originally published in the Fairfax Free Citizen in 2014.