www.ARE THESE THE REAL OKC BOMBERSSun Apr 10, 2005 01:0518.104.22.168
ARE THESE THE REAL OKC BOMBERS
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As for funding the revolution, it now appears to be highly likely that the gang helped pull off the largest domestic terrorist attack committed by Americans in history: the Oklahoma City bombing.
The story of that involvement, while surprisingly well documented, has remained off the radar of the general public for a number of reasons. However, the story of the ARA promises to be a central element of the upcoming Oklahoma state trial of Terry Nichols for his role in the 1995 terrorist attack which killed 168 people.
The members of the ARA had various levels of commitment to the cause of white supremacy. Stedeford and McCarthy had spent some time living at Elohim City, a heavily armed separatist compound in an extremely remote area along the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
After the four ARA members had worked together for a while, they shot a videotaped recruitment pitch in which Commander Pedro and his colleagues encouraged militancy and racial intolerance. But they might not have stopped at producing hate cinema.
In the years since the OKC bombing, rumors have persisted that the ARA was tied to Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted and executed as a lone bomber in the crime. As a credible investigation, the story has kept alive in the news by a massive crop of armchair conspiracy theorists and a handful of credible investigative reporters, including J.D. Cash, a reporter with a tiny Oklahoma paper called the McCurtain Gazette, and John Solomon of the Associated Press. (The book In Bad Company by criminologist Mark S. Hamm took the most detailed look at the ARA, including some memorable pictures of its wannabe-rockstar grunts and wannabe-female ringleader.)
At the heart of the conspiracy theory is the premise that the ARA knew and conspired with McVeigh (and to a lesser extent, Nichols) in executing the bombing on April 19, 1995, and that one or more members of this cabal are responsible for the infamous sightings of a never-apprehended suspect in the case, known as "John Doe 2" (after the FBI sketch with that designation).
In itself, the idea that the ARA had a hand in the bombing is not remarkable. It's even likely, and the facts of the case tend to back it up. But things get weird when you start to look at the investigation and the prosecution of McVeigh and Nichols.
McVeigh was well-documented as having traveled to and around the Elohim City compound. He made phone calls to the compound right before the bombing, and a handful of witnesses have said he visited there as well.
According to this version of the bombing (which has taken on a Rashomon-like quality in recent years), McVeigh worked with members of the ARA and possibly others associated with Elohim City to pull off the bombing attack as a team.
The most widely circulated of these theories outlines an elaborate stratagem that included decoy vehicles, excessive bomb materials and a small army of "John Doe 2s." Some of the details of the plot are so elaborate as to stretch one's tolerance for scheming (like the multiple decoy Ryder trucks allegedly used to confuse investigators), but even these seem to be generally consistent with the ARA's M.O.
The only real problem with all this theorizing comes up AFTER the fact. Because if you accept the ARA's involvement, then there's a substantial amount of evidence and logic which leads one to the conclusion that a) the FBI had a pretty good idea that there were more conspirators than McVeigh and Nichols, and b) the federal government appears to gone to a particularly pointless and inordinate amount of trouble to cover it up.
The outline of the conspiracy is pretty basic: McVeigh and Nichols met with people at Elohim City in September or October of 1993, when the OKC plot was supposedly first being hatched. McVeigh worked closely with Langan, Guthrie and others (including the camp's security director, a German national named Andreas Strassmeir) to plan and execute the bombing. It's not clear how much Nichols was involved in the plot under this particular view. According to the theory, the sightings of John Doe 2 were alternatively sightings of Strassmeir, ARA member Brescia, or Langan.
Other details in the ARA version of the OKC bombing differ notably from the Official Story, including the composition and explosive power of the bomb, the time and location of the bomb's assembly, and the exact degree of culpability incurred by Terry Nichols (a not-insignificant point for Nichols, who is facing a possible death penalty in his Oklahoma state trial, scheduled to be held in 2004).
Numerous internal documents pertaining to the ARA, Elohim City and their possible connections to the Oklahoma City bombing were withheld by the FBI during the federal trials of Nichols and McVeigh. Some surfaced in a belated production of documents just a couple weeks before McVeigh was executed by Lethal Injection. Others were never formally produced by the FBI, but have been obtained and reviewed through the Freedom of Information Act by various credible investigators.
From the documents, and scattered pieces of related testimony, one thing seems to be clear: The FBI really, really, really, REALLY didn't want to present a case to the public that tied the ARA and Elohim City to the Oklahoma City bombing.
After the bombing, the ARA had started to disintegrate, in large part because Guthrie had discovered that Commander Pedro (Langan) was living a second life in Kansas City as a woman named Donna, who was dating a pre-op transsexual woman using the name Bob.
Not surprisingly, this led to tensions within the group, which nevertheless continued to attempt heists. Now, however, the money was earmarked for personal use: retirement from a life of crime in Guthrie's case, and retirement from a life of maleness in Langan's.
Guthrie's sparkling personality led the wife of a buddy to turn him in to the FBI in early January 1996. Once in custody, Guthrie handed up Langan in short order.
When Langan was arrested a couple weeks later, he was in possession of thousands of rounds of ammunition, weapons of every stripe and a stockpile of chemicals used to make bombs. (He was also in possession of pink fingernail polish, red hair dye, half-formed breasts and a stockpile of estrogen pills.)
Strangely, it was AFTER the arrests that things started to get truly paranoid. Langan was offered a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony in the Oklahoma City bombing case, but the bargain was not only withdrawn, it was stricken from the public record (but later uncovered by the Associated Press). Langan was eventually sentenced to life in prison.
Guthrie's prison story was a bit more grim. He committed suicide in prison just three days before he was supposed to testify against Langan. You may, if you wish, make little quote marks in the air with your fingers when saying the words "suicide" and "apparently." Go ahead. Doesn't it feel good?
A defense witness in Langan's trial was allegedly prepared to testify that rock-n-roll racist McCarthy was involved in Oklahoma City, but the witness was himself indicted by the FBI before he could say his piece. McCarthy turned states' evidence and has already finished his term and entered the witness protection program. His bandmate Stedeford didn't fare so well, receiving a 20-year sentence.
Brescia, the third member of Cyanide, was arrested and indicted for his role in the ARA robberies exactly one day after the FBI officially declared that there had been no John Doe No. 2 in the Oklahoma City bombing. He told the court he had abandoned his racist ways, with such apparent sincerity that he served fewer than four years in prison. Elohim City security director Andreas Strassmeir, another suspected John Doe 2, fled the country in 1995 and is still at large.
Even after its dissolution and the rehabilitation of its members (again, make little quote marks around "rehabilitation" as you see fit), Cyanide is still the top-selling skinhead hate rock band in the country, its music distributed by William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries.
But that's not quite the end of the story.
In early 2004, the state of Oklahoma decided to try to get an execution against Terry Nichols, after a federal court unsatisfactorily sentenced him to life in prison. Nichols is planning an all-out white supremacist defense, according to his witness list.
And Pete Langan, sitting at the top of that list, in February told Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash that he's planning to name names.
This could have the effect of making the FBI very uncomfortable, in the wake of numerous internal documents that seem to suggest investigative incompetence (at the least) or conspiratorial scheming (at the most).
What is absolutely certain is that the FBI knew about the ARA, knew about Elohim City, knew McVeigh was at least casually connected to both, and knew that there were people who were willing and able to testify to all of the above.
What remains unclear is whether these facts were missed due to laziness or stupidity (as in the 9/11 attacks), or whether something more sinister was going on. Stay tuned: The trial of Terry Nichols begins in March.
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