On April 19,1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma was bombed. The explosion killed 149 adults and 19 and injured at least 500 people. Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. Army sergeant, who was a 27-year-old white male, was the prime suspect for the bombing. McVeigh offered few reasons as to why he bombed the federal building. It is believed he did it out of revenge for the government’s attack on Waco, Rudy Ridge in 1992, and the new enforced guns laws. The Oklahoma City bombing took place on the two-year anniversary of the Waco tragedy, and it is believed the order for the assault on Waco was issued at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and is one of the reasons that building was chosen.
On April 19, 1995, McVeigh was arrested for speeding, driving without a license and carrying a concealed weapon. He was later arraigned and charged with conspiracy and the murders of the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh did not act alone, Terry Nichols, the other man who was involved in the bombing, was found guilty and charged with involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy. His sentenced was reduced for his testimony against McVeigh. McVeigh was sentenced to die by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.
First I would like to start out by giving a brief definition of what terrorism is and what a revolutionary act is. Terrorism is the organized or unorganized use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments, which usually leads to substantial loss of life. Motives for a terrorist attack can be due to a number of different things. A revolutionary act can be done with out violence but unusually results in violence. Its intentions are to hurt the government and targets government buildings or other properties. In other words, a person is generally perusing a revolutionary act and is looking to get the attention of the government while trying to change its policies. They question that I am faced with is, was the Oklahoma City bombing a terrorist attack or a revolutionary act. In my opinion, this is a very difficult question, and I consider it to be both, along with a governmental cover up.
There are reasons to believe that it could be either or both. Although terrorist attacks can be random they usually tend to target government buildings; which is true in the case of the Oklahoma bombing. The slaughter of innocent victims is a goal of most terrorists, where as someone committing a revolutionary act may try to limit the number of innocent victims and tries to target those who they blame, but the result is usually the same. No matter how hard you try, there are always innocent victims and they, especially real terrorists, have learned to accept it. Again, this is true of the Oklahoma bombing. Many innocent people died, including 19 children. Timothy McVeigh was fully aware he was going to hurt and kill innocent people and felt no remorse when he actually did, but when he learned of the daycare and the deaths of children he did show some sign of regret but still classified them as collateral damage. In my opinion, a true terrorist would not have felt any regret.
I have also considered the motives that Mr. McVeigh used to justify his actions, which he called a “counter attack”. McVeigh wanted revenge against the U.S. for the attacks / raids against the people in Waco, and Rudy Ridge. He also apposed the Brady Bill for gun control. McVeigh believed the government was abusing its power and terrorizing its own people and felt something needed to be done. McVeigh felt the use of extreme force would be more persuasive than any other alternative he could think of in getting the attention he needed. He purposely targeted a government building that held people who worked for the government and represented the government. He felt it was no different than the United States bombing another country. It was a strategic attack in his mind.
McVeigh felt most of the commands, that he opposed, came from the Oklahoma Federal City building and that was reason enough for him to chose that particular building. In my opinion, it seems Timothy McVeigh may have been a copycat. I say this because one of McVeigh’s favorite books was based on a person using a truck bomb to destroy a federal building that has similar values as him. The book is called The Turner Diaries, written by William L. Pierce, pen name Andrew Macdonald. It kind of makes me wonder whether McVeigh was trying to take a leaf out of that book. The above statements are what make me think McVeigh’s actions are considered to be a revolutionary act versus a terrorist act, even though Mr. McVeigh says that was not his intentions. But on the other hand…
It is believed that Timothy McVeigh acted alone or with minimal support but some things do not add up. Witnesses say that they felt two explosions a few seconds apart. I have come across numerous articles that state it was more than a truck bomb constructed out of fertilizer and fuel oil that brought down the federal building, and that it is impossible for a truck bomb that size to do that much damage. I have found reports that state there were other bombs involved and some were being removed from the building that never went off or were considered dummy bombs. Some experts’ say that it would have taken strategically placed bombs to take down the build in such a manner. Experts’ say there must have been bombs placed directly on or around specific support beams. With that said, McVeigh claims he had never been inside the federal building, which leads me to the conclusion he must have had inside help or he was possibly being set up to take the fall. I guess the next question is by whom?
Could he have been working with a terrorist group or could it have been a government cover up or even both? This is the question on many individuals’ minds. In my opinion, there is no question that the government knew more than what they are letting on and will continue to do there best to cover up anything they do not want known. But why would the government do this? I’ve heard possibilities of it being a sting gone wrong. Many people feel the government knew of the possible attack on the building and gave warnings to certain government officials, especially since many of the officials being targeted were not in the building that morning. That again poses questions, questions that were never truly answered and probably wont be.
Some witnesses have even reported seeing the bomb squad near the building before the explosion along with fire trucks. Reporters have asked the fire station about the allegations but their only reply was “we can’t say we were and we can’t deny it either”. There are so many unanswered questions and possibilities. I have no doubt that Timothy McVeigh was involved in the bombing but I do have doubts about him doing it alone or with minimal assistance. Again, I come back to the question I asked myself earlier; is it a terrorist attack or a revolutionary act. If it were Tim McVeigh with minimal support for his cause, then I would say McVeigh committed a revolutionary act out of hatred for the injustices the government has done to American citizens.
Over 12,000 people in the community wanted to help, whether it was looking for people in the rubble or assisting those trying to console those in need of a shoulder. The governor of Oklahoma City had chosen the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to coordinate mental health services to be available to victims and their families and anyone else who had been traumatized by the event. Another agency, Project Heartland, was also established to help those in need and was managed by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Project Heartland provided services such as: crisis intervention, and brief treatment to those who want help. The need for such services became very necessary but there was a small problem. No one was prepared for such devastation or experienced anything that traumatic. It required training and the need for professionals to counsel those in “mental” need. FEMA helped in providing money for the desired training.
Since the bombing, the government has been taking actions to prevent terrorist attacks. An anti-terrorism bill was drawn up and given to Congress to pass; they saw it as a way to prevent terrorism. Congress passed the bill on April 18,1996, but not before making serious changes to it. According to Congress, it would have given to much power over to the Federal Government, which would lead to the evasion of our civil liberties. I think about that bill and September 11. It really did not seem to help our country from terrorist attacks. It just gives us the right to kill them if we see fit among other things.
On June 14, 1997 the jurors reached a verdict. They would sentence Timothy McVeigh to death. Their votes were unanimous and they had no doubt about his guilt. To them he was a terrorist not a patriot. As I researched reactions to McVeigh’s sentence, it seemed no one was surprised at the verdict but many had said “I’ve had enough with death” or the only time they will have closure is when they close their casket. It clearly was a traumatic event for all, especially the victim’s families and friends, and the survivors. It poses the question as to when anyone can ever truly be a piece with such tragedy. From what I gather, many wished McVeigh’s death, and many did not want to add to the death count that already existed.
Mayor Ron Norick created a memorial task force to develop a memorial to honor the families of those killed, survived, and those who volunteered. The memorial will consist of 168 chairs, each sitting on a glass base engraved with a victims name. The chairs will be arranged in a way to represent the federal building by having the chairs placed in nine rows, since the federal building had nine floors to it. The remaining walls that stood even though the explosion is referred to as the survivor stones, which is engraved with all the survivors’ names. There is also a tree that survived the explosion and symbolizes gratitude for those who volunteered to help. The final product read: Oklahoma City Memorial Foundation Memorial Mission Statement Murrah Federal Building Memorial, Inc. 1996
In conclusion, I feel the Oklahoma City bombing was a revolutionary act with lots of unanswered question and possibilities that have yet to be proven as a true terrorist event. However, I found this to be a very interesting topic and intend to continue researching it in hopes to find the answer I would like to know, especially about our government and its participation.