Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Strange Case of Joel Henry Hinrichs

There are 30,000 suicides in the US each year. Know how many are committed by blowing one’s self to bits? Zero. Yet, the FBI would have us believe that with the myriad of mundane ways to dispatch one’s self to the great beyond, someone went through the trouble of painstakingly researching the explosive TATP (TriAcetone-TriPeroxide), mixing 3 pounds of the extremely unstable compound, stuffing it into a backpack, only to sit down alone on a bench 100 yards from a filled college football stadium to set it off. That someone was Joel Henry Hinrichs III, a former engineering student at the University of Oklahoma. And that story, proffered by the FBI to explain JHH’s act, doesn’t add up.

In a nutshell, the FBI has determined that the bombing at OU on October 1, 2005 was nothing more than an elaborate suicide by a disturbed young man. Certainly not a failed terrorist act. Yet, facts uncovered in the months after the event, at the very least, raise questions that beg for answers. Chief among the questions is Why is the federal search warrant still sealed? If JHH’s suicide was merely that - a simple suicide, what could have been found in his dorm room that would necessitate keeping the warrant sealed? We know the police and FBI found additional quantities of TATP (coincidentally, the same explosive used by jihadists in the London Subway bombings) and bomb making instructions along with detailed notes on the results of experiments he conducted at Red Rock Canyon involving shrapnel-laden anti personnel explosive devices. But what could they have uncovered there or elsewhere that causes them to keep the warrant sealed?

There are many more questions about this event than answers - even now, a year and a half later. Among the more interesting ones are:

What happened to his Pakistani roommate who disappeared shortly after the blast?
Whose airline ticket to Algeria was found in Hinrich's apartment?
What was he planning to do with the large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer he was prevented from buying only days before his suicide?
Were the reports of Hinrichs being seen several times in the parking lot of the Norman Mosque (The same one frequented by Zacharias Moussaoui when he lived in Norman), which was only one block away from the OU campus, accurate?
Why does Norman, OK figure so prominently in the activities of known jihadists? For example:
Fact: The 'Twentieth Hijacker', Zacharias Moussaoui, attended the Airman Flight School in Norman.
Fact: 911 hijackers Muhammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi also attended that school.
Fact: Another 911 hijacker, Ziad Jarrah, purchased his ticket on United Flight 93 from a computer terminal at OU in Norman.

For now, these and other questions must remain unanswered. Maybe one day someone involved in the investigatioin will break their silence or, better yet, the federal search warrant will be unsealed. Until that day, there is only speculation and questions. Lots and lots of questions.

1 comment:

Bos'un said...

There are still more questions then answers.