[OKC BOMBING] FBI acted alowly in tip on Nichols, bomb cache
Mark Sherman
Mark Sherman
[OKC BOMBING] FBI acted slowly in tip on Nichols, bomb cache
Sat Apr 16, 2005 18:08


Friday, April 15, 2005

FBI acted slowly in tip on Nichols, bomb cache

Explosives were found in the former home of McVeigh cohort; possible anniversary attack claimed.

By Mark Sherman / Associated Press

Terry Nichols leaves court in June 2004. The FBI initially dismissed a fellow inmate's tip that explosives were hidden in the Lapeer native's former home in Kansas. Who put them there and why is unknown.

WASHINGTON -- The FBI initially dismissed a tip that convicted bomber Terry Nichols had hidden explosives and they might be used for an attack this month coinciding with the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Terry Nichols leaves court in June 2004. The FBI initially dismissed a fellow inmate's tip that explosives were hidden in the Lapeer native's former home in Kansas. Who put them there and why is unknown.

While the FBI has found no evidence supporting the idea that an attack is in the works for Tuesday's 10th anniversary, the information that explosives had been hidden in Nichols' former home in Herington, Kan., turned out to be true.

The tip came from imprisoned mobster Gregory Scarpa Jr., 53, a law enforcement official said this week. Scarpa is an inmate in the same maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colo., where Nichols is serving life sentences for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges in the bombing and executed in 2001.

Scarpa learned about the explosives from Nichols, mainly through notes passed between them, said Stephen Dresch, a Michigan man who is Scarpa's informal advocate.

Dresch gave the information to the FBI in early March. But FBI agents did not search the vacant house until March 31. The bureau did not act more quickly because Scarpa failed a lie detector test.

The FBI lab is examining the materials for fingerprints and other clues that might show where the explosives originated and who may have had them before they got into Nichols' home.

Scarpa, a member of the Colombo organized crime family who is serving 50-plus years on drug trafficking, conspiracy and racketeering convictions, first communicated information about the explosives March 1, then provided more details on March 10 and 11, Dresch said in letters sent to the staffs of two members of Congress and to the FBI's Detroit office. Nichols is a Lapeer, Mich., native. Scarpa revealed the location of the house March 11, Dresch said.

Details about explosives

The first letter said Scarpa learned from another prisoner, assumed by Dresch to be Nichols, "the location of a bomb on U.S. soil." The second described two rock piles in the crawl space beneath Nichols' former home. Under one, it said, were cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic. Those details match what the FBI said it found.

Aides to Reps. William Delahunt, D-Mass., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., acknowledged receiving the letters by fax. Delahunt's office received the letter March 1 or 2 and forwarded it to the FBI, said Steve Schwadron, the lawmaker's chief of staff. The letter to Rohrabacher was not read until after the FBI search had been done, said Rohrabacher spokeswoman Rebecca Rudman.

The FBI refused to comment on the delay.

The bureau has faced harsh post-September 11, criticism accusing it of failing to adequately investigate tips and intelligence.

Delahunt has chided the FBI for its dealings with informants, while Rohrabacher is considering requesting a hearing on the bureau's handling of the Oklahoma City investigation.

"I'm more concerned that the FBI didn't do a thorough job investigating this location 10 years ago than I am about how long it took to follow through on an informant's tip," Rohrabacher said.

Dresch, a Michigan economist, principal owner of Forensic Intelligence International and former state lawmaker, speculated that the FBI didn't act more quickly because Scarpa has a long, contentious history with federal authorities.

Terrorism link

Valerie Caproni, now the FBI general counsel, was a prosecutor in Scarpa's 1998 trial in Brooklyn, N.Y. At the time, Scarpa testified he spied for the FBI on four suspects in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, including convicted mastermind Ramzi Yousef, while they were jailed together in Manhattan.

Scarpa said he passed on to the FBI plans that said associates of the four men would kill a prosecutor in one of Yousef's trials and attack a federal judge he declined to name as well as unspecified "government installations."

Caproni and U.S. District Judge Reena Raggi scoffed at Scarpa's claims, which the judge called insignificant at best and more likely "part of a scam."

Freelance journalist Peter Lance has argued in his recent book, "Cover Up," that Scarpa's information was accurate and included tips that could have led the FBI to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle, long before the Sept. 11 attacks Mohammed purportedly helped plan.
Did Oklahoma City Bombers Have Help?
Fox News Fri, 15 Apr 2005 9:14 PM PDT
Some argue FBI ignored clues in Oklahoma City bomb investigation. Peter Langan speaks exclusively to FOX News.

One month after the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing (search) that killed 168 people, authorities demolished what was left of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (search).

Officials said the implosion was a necessary part of the psychological recovery for the citizens of Oklahoma City. But critics question the FBI’s tactics and argue the building came down too soon and the implosion is one piece of a government cover-up.

Survivor VZ Lawton remembers the events after the attack.

“I was in my office at my desk signing papers and all of a sudden the building began to shake,” said Lawton. “The lights went out, debris started falling and then something hit me on the head and knocked me out before the truck bomb ever went off.”

Lawton and some others believe Timothy McVeigh (search) — who was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges in the bombing and executed in 2001 — and convicted conspirator Terry Nichols (search) weren't alone in plotting the attack.

During the investigation the FBI circulated sketches of “John Does” and in response received thousands of conflicting tips from across the country.

Editor's Note: Watch the FOX News Channel on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT for "The Oklahoma City Bombing: Unanswered Questions." And check out FOXNews.com on Monday for a story showing how FBI agents are convinced they got the right men.

The FBI quickly identified Timothy McVeigh as John Doe No. 1 — the man who rented the Ryder Truck used in the deadly plot. But, the FBI discounted dozens of eyewitness statements about a John Doe No. 2. And some ask why.

"The government tried to tell us that there was no John Doe 2 in the truck with McVeigh," Lawton said. "We got witnesses that saw him in the truck, saw him get out of the truck, walk across the street and get into a brown Chevrolet pickup with two more John Doe 2's. That makes three."

A number of eyewitnesses said they saw McVeigh with other men at a variety of locations in Oklahoma and Kansas before the attack. Some accounts put McVeigh with other men on the morning of the bombing — but the FBI has ruled them out.

Pictures made from surveillance video at the Regency Tower Apartments are the only images related to the attack that have been released to the public.

Oklahoma City attorney Michael Johnston said the FBI was not given all the tapes from as many as twenty-five cameras that he says were in and around the Murrah Building.

“If they're really non-consequential, it wouldn't hurt anything. If indeed they show something I think the American public, after a decade, has the right to know,” he said.

Johnston, on behalf of twenty-five victims’ families, filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for all of the surveillance videos. FOX News also filed a FOI request. The FBI has denied both cases on account that the case is still open.

"We can’t expect to get that footage until after that case is closed and then I think you will," said FBI agent Jon Hersley.

Racial Tie to Bombing?

Another surveillance tape of interest might have shown McVeigh with some notorious bank robbers, but the FBI admits the video was destroyed.

“There's also some bank robbery surveillance tapes that were disposed of in some way that could've involved McVeigh with the Midwest robbery gang. There's just a lot of unanswered questions there,” former FBI agent Danny Coulson said.

Between the years of 1992 and 1996, a gang of white separatists who called themselves the Aryan Republican Army robbed banks throughout the Midwest and stole nearly $500,000 before being caught. Rumors have persisted that the ARA was tied to McVeigh.

“The Midwest bank robbers of course are somebody that should be looked at. Terrorists historically finance their operations through bank robbery, armored car robbery,” Coulson said. “Coincidences just aren't coincidences, there's some reason for it.”

Peter Langan, one of the gang’s leaders who is serving a life sentence for his role in the robberies, told FOX News in an exclusive interview that some of the Midwest bank robbers were involved in the Oklahoma City bombing.

“Yes I do [believe members of the Aryan Republican Army were involved],” Langan said. “No doubt whatsoever.”

McVeigh's sister, Jennifer, in her own sworn deposition said: "My brother remarked that the money he had in his possession represented his share of the bank robbery proceeds."

Some argue the FBI should have looked harder at phone records they used to track McVeigh and Nichols. The records might hold ignored or missed clues that call for a wider investigation, especially the number of calls McVeigh made to the Philippines.

“It's amazing to me that not more has been made of those phone records,” Johnston said.

Repeated calls were made from Terry Nichols' home to a place called Star Glad Lumber in the Philippines.

“Star Glad Lumber is operated by a man whose brother and cousin were both notorious terrorists, splinter groups of the Abu Sayyaf terror group in the Philippines,” according to Johnston, the attorney.

Nichols also repeatedly called a boarding house in Cebu City, an establishment that has been linked to 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef (search). The same kind of ANFO fertilizer fuel bomb was used in New York and in Oklahoma City.

Finally, in McVeigh's trial the prosecution alleged that the bombing was financed by a robbery of an Arkansas gun dealer named Roger Moore. But Langan doesn't agree.

"Moore had himself robbed ... so he could put firearms in the black market without having liability himself," Langan said.

Asked if he believed Moore was not a victim, but part of the scam, Langan told FOX News: "Correct."

FOX News' Rita Cosby, Clay Rawson and Peter Russo contributed to this report.

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