On this day in 1995, a domestic terrorist truck bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City kills 168 people and injures 680 others; among the dead were 19 children from the building’s day care center. It remains the deadliest home-grown terror attack in US history, and was the most lethal overall until 911.
Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, in addition to massive human casualties, the blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.
Within 90 minutes of the explosion, McVeigh, an anti-government “militiaman,” was stopped by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and arrested for illegal weapons possession; ironically, these are the two top hot-spots for similarly deluded “sovereigns” who believe they are heroes within their own skins, pitted against the evil country of their birth.
Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and his mentor, Michigan Militia leader Nichols, to the attack; Nichols was arrested and within days, both were charged. The official investigation, known as “OKBOMB,” saw FBI agents conduct 28,000 interviews, amass 3.5 short tons of evidence, and collect nearly one billion pieces of information. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997; McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004.
Two thoughts recur to this writer each year at this anniversary. First, I pray that folks who see no harm at all in vilifying the very governmental units that protect them everyday would take a moment to contemplate just how deadly and treasonous such inane sentiments are; “Oathkeepers,” “Unite the Right” folks and even the men and women in our highest Executive Branch offices routinely inveigh against the foundational principles of our nation, at turns going so far as to ordering underlings to break the law on the promise of a subsequent pardon.
The second point relates to the first; many people who may have been angered on the anniversary of the April Beirut Bombing, which claimed 63 lives at the hands of Islamic Jihad, seem far less moved by the loss of 168 Americans, including 19 children, murdered by two “patriots” on our own soil.