By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Local attorney Stephen Jones believes there is a connection, if indirect, between the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Jones was the attorney for Timothy McVeigh, convicted and executed for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. During his defense of McVeigh, Jones conducted extensive investigations to determine if anyone else was involved. Those investigations led him to the Philippines, where al-Qaida members trained those involved in the plot to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 and the crash of an Egypt Air jetliner in 1999, Jones said.
When the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, al-Qaida plotters expected to see one tower fall into the other, but that did not happen. The buildings did not topple. The leader of the plot was named Ramzi Yousef, and he immediately flew to Pakistan and disappeared, Jones said.
At about the same time, Jones said, a plot to kill the pope was started in the Philippines by Yousef.
Following a fire in a diplomatic apartment in the Holy See in Rome, Jones said, authorities found computers in an apartment occupied by Hakim Murada containing information that revealed a plot to destroy 11 American buildings. Murada was arrested and cooperated fully, giving detailed statements to the FBI, including information about sending people to flying schools in the United States to learn how to fly planes so they could crash into a building.
“Al-Qaida had a plan of the Oklahoma City bomb, but they learned you can’t bring down an American skyscraper with a truck bomb,” Jones said.
On Halloween 1999, terrorists managed to take over an Egypt Air jetliner and crash it. That was an important lesson for Osama bin Laden, who was an engineer and whose family owned one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East, Jones said.
“He learned that you can use a large airplane, take control of it and destroy a building,” he said. “The Oklahoma City bombing helped show what can be done.”
The airplane becomes a missile, and it can be crashed into a building and cause it to collapse. The World Trade Center attack in 1993 was an attempt to make the same statement al-Qaida made on Sept. 11, 2001, but there was a flaw in their plan, Jones said. The bombers of the Murrah Building used 4,000 pounds of explosive and could not totally bring down the nine-story building. No truck or improvised explosive device is large enough to do that, Jones said.
During his defense of McVeigh, Jones originally thought al-Qaida may have had a relationship to the Murrah event, because he received a heavily redacted report of a statement made by Hakim Murad saying the “Murrow” Liberation Army was responsible for the bombing.
However, Jones was skeptical, even though he knew co-conspirator Terry Nichols had made numerous trips to the Philippines and his story for going was not credible.
Nichols said he was trying to find a wife and went to the Philippines 10 times. He did find a wife, who became pregnant by another man. Nichols moved both the wife and child to the United States, where the child mysteriously died, Jones said.
“Nichols met with some very shady people,” Jones said.
Jones contends the U.S. government knew before Sept. 11, 2001, there was a plot to use airplanes to destroy buildings. He said the attack was not a failure of intelligence, but a failure of intelligence analysis because the information was not analyzed appropriately.
“No one familiar with the work of al-Qaida since World Trade Center One could have been surprised that it happened,” Jones said. “There is certainly some circumstantial evidence to link the two together. There was clearly a plot, but it was so audacious, no one thought it could be done.”
Jones asked who would have thought at the beginning of World War II the Japanese could bring their entire armada across the ocean and attack Pearl Harbor. He said the authorities ultimately responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are both President Clinton and President Bush.
Many people, including President Bush, thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attack, rather than bin Laden, even though the evidence was not conclusive, Jones said.