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October 6, 2005

Naming Things, Logic, and Humanity

I'm a big believer in calling things by appropriate names. This is not mere sophistry: the naming of a thing tells us how to respond to that thing. To name a thing is to assign a moral role to that thing. The enemies of clear understanding, the Derridas and Chomskys and Zinns, use names to blur the moral nature of otherwise repugnant people or activities, as did Markos Zuniga when he called contractors working for the military in Iraq "mercenaries", and said "screw them" when they were killed and treated barbarously. It's why our external enemy are called "freedom fighters" by those who view us as their internal enemies: freedom fighters are morally legitimate, and thugs and terrorists are not.

Setting aside for the moment how this abuse of language leads words to become meaningless, and thus leads to the inability to clearly articulate moral choices, we come to another term that is meaningless and needs to be abandoned: "suicide bomber". A person who goes into the middle of the desert and kills himself by detonating explosives is not what we mean by "suicide bomber", even though he used a bomb to commit suicide. Similarly, a person who goes into the middle of a crowd, and sets of his bomb killing many, but who somehow survives (it has happened) is what we mean by "suicide bomber". But what to call such a person? The point of the act is not suicide, but homicide and "martyrdom" (a term that needs an essay or two to do justice to, particularly in the jihadi sense of the term) together — or frequently just homicide.

But "homicide bomber" doesn't work. Tim McVeigh, in destroying the Murrah Federal Building, certain committed homicide using a bomb, but that is not the same thing as what we mean, because McVeigh did not intend to die in the act. (This is why Fox News calling the Madrid train bombings the first homicide bombings in Western Europe was so ridiculous; clearly Fox missed the entire era of Communist terrorism in Western Europe, and for that matter the Irish bombings in England over several decades.) So what term does express the act itself: the intentional killing of others with a bomb, in order to attain a goal (terrorizing others into cultural and political surrender, these days), with the intent of killing one's self in the process? The only term I can come up with is "kamikaze". It expresses both the intended suicide and the intended homicide aspects of the act, and is morally neutral for the most part. It is understood to be a tactic, rather than a cause. And so it can be equally applied to attacks on military or government targets (morally legitimate) or attacks on civilians (morally illegitimate).

And now to some logic, and current events. Joe Hinrichs killed himself with a bomb at OU last Saturday. Was he or was he not a kamikaze? I tend to think not, for a few reasons.

  • First, he doesn't fit the profile of today's kamikaze's. As Fran Porretto ably pointed out, the next one or ten or one hundred of these attacks are not going to be committed by middle class non-Muslim white guys. (Don't worry; we'll come back to this point.) As far as I can tell, Joe was a middle class non-Muslim white guy.
  • There were several easy, spectacular targets nearby (including both the ongoing football game and a popular and crowded Irish pub) where, were Joe a kamikaze, he could have killed many, many people.
  • In many ways most importantly to me, Joe was a member of the Oklahoma Chapter of Triangle Fraternity, an organization I am also privileged to be a member of. I know the kind of people involved in the fraternity in general, and the Oklahoma chapter in general. I know, as an initiate, the central mystery and ethics that are assumed as a part of becoming a Brother. Joe would have had to utterly renounce that creed — would have broken every part of it — to kill himself and others in this way.

Now that last point isn't logical. It is an intuitive feeling based on things that I know that are not amenable to logic. And as such, I'm perfectly ready to abandon (with accompanying grief and disappointment) that last point if it turns out that in fact Joe was intending a kamikaze attack. In fact, if it could be shown that Joe was a Muslim convert, I would have to acknowledge the likelihood that in fact this was a kamikaze attack, intended to kill numerous of my fellow citizens.

But let's pause there and look at the logic of many whose opinions I otherwise respect, who claim that Joe was a kamikaze. There are many examples, but I'm going to pick on The Jawa Report, because the format is easiest to deal with:

1) Hinrichs seems to have converted to Islam and attended a nearby Islamic center. (see map at Zombietime) However, the president of the University of Oklahoma Muslim Studeant Association denies that Hinrichs was a Muslim. Other witnesses, though, claim Hinrichs was a frequent visitor to the mosque.

2) It appears that the Islamic center is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and which has been investigated for funding terrorism by Congress.

3) The ISNA linked mosque may have been the same one attended by Zacharias MOUSSAOUI. Much more on the Zacharias MOUSSAOUI link at Cao's blog.

4) Hinrichs' roomate, Fazal M. Cheema, was a Pakistani national and neighbors claim the apartment was a center of activity for Middle Easterners. He is described as a 'really nice guy' by his friends. Unfortunately, all terrorists are described this way by their friends. NEIN now reports that Cheema and his associates may have been on the FBI's terror watch list.

5) Hinrichs attempted to buy a large amount of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in large explosives such as the first World Trade Center bombings or the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing.

6) Hinrichs was later known to the FBI because of his attempted purchase.

7) Evidence at the scene of the bombing suggests that shrapenel was part of the bomb. This is a strong indication that Hinrichs planned to kill more than himself.

8) Witnesses now report Hinrich may have attempted to enter the OU football game, but that he fled when security attempted to check his backpack

9) Northeast Intelligence Network, who's earlier reports we had dismissed because of that website's long track record of alarmism but who are increasingly looking like they got this one right, claims a source is telling them:

It appears that HINRICHS was part of a larger plan that included members of an Islamic terrorist cell based in and around the Norman and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma area. As a Caucasian, it was much easier for him to obtain the materials needed to create a large bomb, act in concert with members of the local terrorist cell, and strike when relative calm was the word of the day.
All of this evidence suggests that there may have been a wider plot by Islamic terrorists to use Joel Henry Hinrichs III as a suicide bomber in exactly the same way as terrorists use suicide bombers around the world: to kill civilians. Hinrichs, like so many other suicide bombers, failed in his attempt and killed only himself.

OK, so let's look at this. Point one might be convincing, if in fact it turns out that Joe was a convert to Islam. But was he? The only sources I've seen that say he was are either unreliable (I think NIN is as surprised as anyone any time they get something right; they're like the American Debka) or refer only to "anonymous sources", which I've learned not to trust. In contrast, named people will go on the record saying Joe was not a member of the mosque. Does anyone have a source that is not anonymous, and that is not NIN or WND or some equally untrustworthy site?

The most ridiculous evidence I keep seeing is the map showing the proximity of the local Islamic Center to Joe's apartment, the blast site, etc. Um, guys, the College Republicans, the office of the local Representative, and a lot of other things (including bars and bookstores) are equally close. That's not only unconvincing; it's blatantly illogical.

Points 2 and 3 are irrelevant if point 1 is unproven.

Point 4 is based on NIN "reporting", which I will not take without corroboration elsewhere (involving named sources).

Points 5 and 6 are essentially the same point (of course you're known to the FBI if you try to buy a large quantity of ammonium nitrate; they're not idiots, and learned to watch that after the OKC bombing), and certainly show that Joe might have intended to build a bomb. Of course, the fact that he killed himself with a homemade bomb showed that already, so I'm not sure how this is evidence of anything that isn't already proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Point 7 might be convincing, but there is no attribution and this is not something I've seen elsewhere. Is it from a reliable site, and a named source, or is it just rumor or third-hand reports?

Point 8 is a secondhand report, which is also known as "rumor", if you want to go back to the topic of naming things. The library security guard may be telling what he knows accurately, but given that he is telling about something he did not witness, it's not reliable testimony of what actually happened at the stadium, nor whether the student mentioned as running from the stadium guards was even male, never mind whether the student was Joe.

Point 9 is more rumors and unnamed sources from NIN.

So it comes to this: my prejudices lead me to believe that Joe was not a kamikaze, and a lot of people's prejudices lead them to conclude that he was. But the "evidence" being bandied about is not very convincing on either side, and perhaps it would be better to remember that no matter what else, Joe has a family and friends who are very badly affected by Joe's death. In the absence of good evidence, isn't it a bit better to wait to pronounce from on high, so as not to unfairly smear a possible innocent and his family? Otherwise, just how are conservatives any better morally, any less conspiracy-addled freaks, than the DU moonbats?

To Rusty's credit, he does at least have a disclaimer: "A word of caution is necessary here. It is definitely possible that Hinrichs did act alone and was just a sad nut with a death wish. Some of the facts presented above could turn out to be untrue, and even if true could be interpreted in a number of ways. We'll just have to wait and see. But, as of this writing I am inclined to believe that Hinrichs was part of a larger plot." I wish others were at least as responsible.

UPDATE: Lewy14 notes in the comments: "I recall reading something last year to the effect that _real_ kamikaze pilots (there were a few who went through the training and survived the war) were indignant at being compared to terrorist suicide bombers. Calling the latter "kamikaze" elevates them to the dignity of soldiers. It effectively claims that their civilian victims are legitimate combatants. Whatever else the Japanese kamikazes were, they were not murderers or terrorists."

I actually considered that. The problem is that our enemy doesn't think like we do, while the Japanese basically did. Our enemy does not have an idea that separates soldiers from civilians; they are tribal. But when a "suicide bomber" attacks a military or government target that we would regard as legitimate, then they are doing exactly what the kamikazes did. The only difference is that our enemy doesn't regard civilians as non-combatants.

UPDATE: Classical Values has great coverage of this story, by the way. I have gone through the last few days of posts, and it's exactly the tone I was trying to hit (except without the emotional involvement I have): skeptical of unsourced claims from any site.

UPDATE: Cathy Young has an interesting post today, 10/18, where she takes apart Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and Jawa Report for basically the same reasons I did. Here is the graf that had me saying, "yep":

Malkin, Powerline, and The Jawa Report claim that the blogs have not made any assertions, merely asked questions. First of all, that's a common, and rather poor, excuse for irresponsible speculation. If a prominent left-wing blog ran an item titled, "Did George W. Bush know in advance about the 9/11 attacks?", I doubt that Malkin & Co. would consider the question mark to be much of an attenuating circumstance.

I do have to say one thing in Powerline's favor: they didn't consistently refer to Joe as "Joel Henry Hinrichs III", as the other blogs did. That full legal name thing just screams "suspect", and I'm happy that not everyone jumped onto it.

UPDATE: Turning off comments, because I'm getting really weird ones now, that are complete junk (just a few words) rather than real comments.

Posted by jeff at October 6, 2005 6:20 PM

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It is a commentary on the times we live in that we get the coverage we've gotten. While I see your point, I also understand why so many have jumped to the conclusions they have. You don't hear about many suicide by bomb incidents except from Muslims with intent to murder. I think it is a natural gut reaction of people considering the state of world affairs right now.

You do bring up some good points, though. Most notably, even if Hinrichs was trying to get in the stadium to kill others, why when he was prevented from entering the stadium did he not pick a secondary target. You mention the Irish pub (O'Connell's), which is packed during games. That place is about a five minute walk from where Hinrichs killed himself. That certainly leads one away from the idea of intention to kill others. I would imagine even a second-rate terrorist, never mind someone from a cell of hard core jihadis, would have pre-planned secondary targets in case the primary target was a no-go.

Posted by: Brian Medcalf at October 6, 2005 10:37 PM

What about the photo of him with a wacky beard?

Unless there's an infidelicious reason for growing out the whiskers, that's pretty strong evidence that he was a Muslim extremist (not just a convert to Islam, but a wacky one).

Maybe he was a convert to Leprechanism...

I agree that we shouldn't jump to conclusions, but if it weren't for people pursuing this story, we wouldn't be getting any of the new information that suggests this might be more than a tragic suicide.

Posted by: Daryl Herbert [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2005 10:43 PM

Maybe the bomb went off prematurely? Entirely possible. I mean, he could have been heading to a bar, for example. And why would a guy who wanted to blow himself up be stockpiling explosives?

Posted by: mike at October 6, 2005 10:52 PM

I have a son on campus and go to all the football games at OU. I am worried about my family also. I don't know how you can dismiss his attempt to purchase ammonium nitrate so easily. What exactly do you use that for if you live in an apartment on campus. Also, it is a fact that a large quantity of explosives were removed from his apartment after his death. His use of Triacetone Triperoxide to make his bomb is very suspicious, too. This does not look like someone who wanted to kill only himself. I predict some arrests soon.

Posted by: Susan at October 6, 2005 11:07 PM

I'd echo Susan:

- There is a named source who claims Hinrichs wanted "large quantities" of ammonium nitrate. More than enough to blow up one person?

- "Work accidents" with the explosive in question have been known to happen.

- Dunno this, but what evidence is there that this was a suicide? Despair, a note left, anything?

- Is it possible that the guy was _not_ a muslim convert but still in league with a terror net?

Finally, at the risk of appearing overly "sensitive", I recall reading something last year to the effect that _real_ kamikaze pilots (there were a few who went through the training and survived the war) were indignant at being compared to terrorist suicide bombers. Calling the latter "kamikaze" elevates them to the dignity of soldiers. It effectively claims that their civilian victims are legitimate combatants. Whatever else the Japanese kamikazes were, they were not murderers or terrorists. To claim otherwise is to play dishonest games with names.

Posted by: lewy14 at October 7, 2005 12:46 AM

Mike, from what I've heard, Hinrichs was just sitting on a bench when the bomb was detonated. That doesn't sound like he was heading for another target.

Susan, the attempt to purchase ammonium nitrate leads one to believe Hinrichs was trying to build a bomb. As Jeff said, what does that really tell us? We know he was trying to build a bomb. He succeeded. It does not necessarily mean he was trying to murder others though.

Also, I don't find TATP particularly suspicious at all. It is fairly easy to create needing only pretty common, easy to acquire, ingredients.

Lewy, sometimes I've seen that Hinrichs was seeking a "significant amount" of ammonium nitrate, and on other occasions just that he sought ammonium nitrate. Oklahoma City's CBS affiliate is saying that the feed store manager asked Hinrichs how much he needed and for what and Hinrichs couldn't really give him an answer. If he was seeking a "significant amount" that would lead me to believe it was more than just a suicide, but there are too many different stories going around for me to know what is accurate.

Now, all that being said, I don't know what the truth is. He may very well have been looking to commit an act of terror, but he may not have been. We just don't know. I would like more facts before I reach a conclusion.

Posted by: Brian Medcalf at October 7, 2005 12:59 AM

Mike makes a good point. I've read elsewhere that the particular explosive used by Hinrichs is extremely volatile. Perhaps he panicked when he couldn't get into the stadium and he ran, and the jostling caused it to explode before he could reach a secondary target.

Additionally, I'd point out that representatives of the mosque have a powerful incentive to deny Hinrichs' involvement with their mosque. I'm not saying they're lying, but I won't take their word as the last word on this issue, not without further corroboration. (Same as when a suspected killer's friends and family say he was a great guy and wouldn't harm a fly.)

Overall, it's clear we need to know more before reaching conclusions. But the mainstream media's silence on this is partly to blame for the rampant speculation and rumor-mongering on the Internet. Maybe if the press were doing their job here, we wouldn't feel so compelled to fill the vacuum.

Posted by: Alistair at October 7, 2005 1:13 AM

An alternative explanation for the otherwise bizzare behaviour of seeking out ammonuim nitrate is in order: An intelligent young man, suddenly realizing he is in over his head and perhaps unable to go to the authorities without endangering himself or his family, attempts to provoke an investigation.

Or is that too Hollywood?

Posted by: Hammer at October 7, 2005 1:21 AM

Alistair, from everything I've seen he was killed while sitting on a bench, not while running.

Posted by: Brian Medcalf at October 7, 2005 1:32 AM

Well, I think you may be straining to cram a camel through the eye of a needle here. Just as you are reluctant to take the word of NEIN, I am reluctant to take the word of any Muslims connected with the Norman Mosque that Hinrichs was not a convert. First, it is perfectly acceptable for Muslims to lie to infidels. Second, Muslim self-interest in this case, in Norman (and elsewhere, for that matter) would dictate lying, not telling the truth, if Hinrichs were a convert.

Most of your argument seems to rest on as much gut hunch (your personal feelings about what it means to be a Triangle member) and the idea that a Muslim has denied that Hinrichs is a convert. Taken in this light, I don't see your argument against being any stronger than the arguments in favor of him having been a kamikaze.

In fact, your arguments are shakier. He did blow himself up in proximity to a large number of people. As for your arguments purporting to show inconsistencies in his actions around the stadium (which are still murky) may I suggest that by definition a kamikaze is probably not the sanest, most logical human around, especially during the commission of his attack. I think you are (understandably, perhaps) grasping at straws.

Posted by: Bill Quick at October 7, 2005 3:30 AM

Look, I understand that there is no solid, publicly-available evidence that Joe was not a Muslim convert and was not trying to kill people. Nor is there any solid evidence that he was. My problem with the approach taken by many is twofold:

1. Guilty until proven innocent.
2. The use of "evidence" so shaky that we would all decry it if it didn't fit our prejudices.

I don't have a problem with speculation on whether Joe was or was not a suicide bomber. But taking his "wacky beard" as evidence shows an ignorance of engineers, not known for their care with person hygiene, their concern for their appearance or their taste in clothes. (But they are known for their interest in things that go boom, and big machines, and so forth.) I knew quite a few engineering students with "wacky beards" when I was at OU, and I shudder to think about my hair then, which made me look like a hippie at best.

Taking the location of his apartment viz the Islamic Center shows an ignorance of Norman: the campus is the center of a lot of things, and the Islamic Center is near a lot of things other than Joe's apartment.

Taking the word of unnamed sources and third hand rumors as obvious truth is not only dumb because of how often they are wrong, it's also the very thing we normally decry in the MSM. Now we're promoting it because it fits our prejudices?

That's just dumb. I don't mind speculation, but I hate unfounded accusation. The FBI is investigating, as are other agencies, and while the national media is not following the story, the local and campus media are. So the evidence will come out.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 6:38 AM

What a stupid refutation of the possibility that the bombing was linked to Islamic extremism. You essentially argue that "nobody has proved it yet." As for the location of the detonation, the answer is simple, once turned away from the stadium, he sat down o the bench to figure out what to do, and the highly volatile explosive detonated prematurely.

Posted by: Geoff at October 7, 2005 7:51 AM

Something I think you're missing is the nature of ammonium nitrate as an explosive. It is very difficult to ignite. The inability to get the detcord to set off the ammonium nitrate nearly foiled the Oklahoma City bombing. If he really only intended to kill himself, the primer explosive would have been more than adequate. Certainly anyone with the ability to make TATP would have known this.

Posted by: Rob at October 7, 2005 8:07 AM

I like your post. I think you have done a great job on it. I think we should be skeptical of the claim of terrorist/muslim ties but I one caveat about one of your points.

While its true that people who are named are denying that he ever attended the mosque this doesnt rule out that he was a convert for two reasons. The most obvious which I am sure most of us have already thought of is that they could be lying cover themselves and their faith whether they had anything to do with the bombing or not. Secondly, while muslim men are usually required to attend prayers at a mosque on a regular basis, this requirement can be excused for "good" reason. In this case, he could have been an active convert receiving his education and praying communally with his muslim friends at his apartment. It would not be the first time that an apartment was used as a mosque.

Having said that, I want to see hard evidence before I am convinced. I am seeing a lot of hearsay being passed off as proof. I think I'll wait for the conclusions of the official investigation.

Posted by: Peggy at October 7, 2005 8:26 AM

Good advice, not to jump to conclusions here.
I might also add that if the guy had Muslim roommates, that might well explain his visiting the same mosque or Islamic center that they went to.

We'll find out the truth soon enough, I suspect.

Posted by: David at October 7, 2005 8:40 AM

PS. I think I forgot to mention what the "good" reason would be. If it isnt already obvious, that reason would have been to conceal his conversion in order to facilitate his mission.

Posted by: Peggy at October 7, 2005 8:40 AM

Shame! Shame on you for trying to be reasonable and not getting all Geraldo Rivera on the story.

Posted by: Ken at October 7, 2005 10:14 AM

When has anyone ever committed suicide by blowing themselves up? I've never heard of it happing.

Also, the explosive was very volatile, and could have easily went off with him just sitting on a bench, trying to decide what to do next.

Posted by: Roy at October 7, 2005 11:06 AM

Pompous hair splitting certainly doesn't contribute much to the situation.

Posted by: Amos at October 7, 2005 11:36 AM

Emotional involvement, indeed. You devalue all of your currency with that statement alone.

Posted by: Bane at October 7, 2005 1:49 PM

Really, Bane? That's fascinating. So by admitting my biases and the possibility of error (including reasons for it), I have undermined my case that others are not admitting their biases or possibility of error? Or is it that by admitting that I care about this story in a way that is not dispassionate, but that seeks to be reasonable, I have undermined my ability to criticize people who appear to be both dispassionate and unreasonable?

I'm quite curious as to how I have "devalue[d] all of [my] currency" by noting that I may be wrong up front, and why, rather than making others dig that connection out for themselves.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 1:54 PM

You state quite clearly that you do not want to believe something, and then you proceed to (quite illogically, it appears to me) to fulfill your promised premise, and disbelieve.

It seems odd, because you otherwise seem to be a fine writer and a clear thinker.

I should have been more clear...your statement of emotional involvement would seem to be a clear sign that you need to recuse yourself from opining on this subject, a subject that is pretty darn serious and important to a majority of Americans.

Plus, I'm just pretty darn tired of the 'nothing to see here, move along' attitude that seems to infest the reportage of this sort of thing since 9/11.

Posted by: Bane at October 7, 2005 2:07 PM

I have heard that he was sitting on the bench in order to strap the explosive onto his chest. If he was turned away from admission to the game because of his refusal to let security search his backpack,maybe he wanted to conceal it under his shirt and make another attempt to enter the stadium. Perhaps at that time, the explosion occured prematurely due to it's volatile nature. Of course, this is speculation. I live in Norman and do know exactly where the bench is. He would have been somewhat isolated at that location which would have allowed him to surreptiously attempt to relocate his explosive onto his body. I intend to visit the site this week-end to see if there is any evidence of sharpnel. I heard a tree close to the bench has small holes in it. We shall see.

Posted by: Susan at October 7, 2005 2:16 PM

OK, I see where you are coming from. You might go reread the top bits of what I said, where I note, for example, that:

I'm perfectly ready to abandon (with accompanying grief and disappointment) that last point if it turns out that in fact Joe was intending a kamikaze attack. In fact, if it could be shown that Joe was a Muslim convert, I would have to acknowledge the likelihood that in fact this was a kamikaze attack, intended to kill numerous of my fellow citizens.

My mind is not closed on this point, and certainly I'm willing to believe what I do not want to believe should what I don't want to believe nonetheless turn out to be true.

The subject is "pretty darn serious and important" to me for two reasons. A fraternity Brother of mine is accused of something I find inexcusable: treason. (And make no mistake, it is treason for an American citizen to wage war on the United States.) So the two reasons for me are that an American citizen may have committed treason by attempting to attack other American citizens (presumably this is what you state a majority of Americans find serious and important) and that the accused is a fraternity Brother of mine. I don't mind the speculation; it's the rampant rumor-mongering and the trust put in unnamed and frequently third-hand sources that bothers me most. I cannot see this — either my emotional connection to the event as a Triangle or my connection to the event as a potential target — as reason to recuse myself. However, I can see why some might discount my statements because of this bias, and that is why I stated the bias up front.

And I, too, am pretty tired of the 'nothing to see here, move along' attitude in not just reporting, but government pronouncements and public opinion. Why, for example, are the DC snipers never mentioned as an example of a terrorist attack on the US? What about the shooting at the LA(?) El Al airlines counter by a Muslim? Does nothing short of 9/11 constitute terrorism these days?

But that's not the point. The point is that being tired of that does not excuse unfounded accusation, reliance on rumor, or sounding like inmates of the DU.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 2:20 PM

"Pompous hair splitting" is certainly better than the hysterical attitude of "Look, it's an American jihadist!" alarmism on many sites.

Posted by: Mark L [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 2:23 PM

Susan, I'm curious if you have a reference for the "shifting explosives" claim? That's not one I've yet seen.

I'd also like to know, if you don't mind sharing, what you see at the site. (And if you can and wish to take pictures, so much the better. Evidence is good.)

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 2:23 PM

Fair enough.

Posted by: Bane at October 7, 2005 2:39 PM

Jeff, since this happened I have been all over the net, so I can only tell you that this is part of the speculation I have heard. The authorities have told us nothing specific as of yet. I have also heard that a second explosion on the same night was the bomb squad blowing up a back-pack found on the ground by the bench. So, this probably led to some wondering if he took the explosive out of the back-pack when he was unable to enter the stadium and tryed to strap it on his body. I don't know. I do know that if you make a bomb with TATP and try to buy ammonium nitrate, and have a large ammount of explosives in your apartment that something besides your own suicide is up. I will let you know if I see anything interesting at the site of the explosion. If there is anything to see, I will take pics.

Posted by: Susan at October 7, 2005 4:38 PM

Regarding the theory that he got turned away from the gate and ran off and sat down on the bench and his backpack 'sploded. If TATP is unstable enough to detonate spontaneously while someone is sitting on a bench... how did he manage to "sprint away" (the words used by the only guy to witness him trying to get in the gate) without it blowing up?

It should be noted that I know jack about 'splosives.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at October 7, 2005 11:33 PM

Again, just speculation, but our Islamic friends are known to use patsies, and remotely detonate them if they think they are about to be captured, or they appear to be 'chickening out'.

"No virgins for you!"BOOM!

Posted by: Bane at October 8, 2005 2:50 PM

While the kamikaze pilots (and Japanese Navy in general) limited their attacks to legitimate military targets, the Japanese armed forces more broadly (i.e., Army) did not. They massacred hundreds of thousands in China and Korea. Also, Navies in WWII (and more broadly) destroyed enemy merchant shipping (an economic attack), even non-armed ships -- indeed, such are widely considered legitimate targets.

Posted by: DWPittelli at October 18, 2005 6:49 PM

Geoff is correct; ammonium nitrate is technically termed a "blasting agent" (a class D explosive); it requires more than just a blasting cap to set it off. It is typically detonated using a blasting cap and a "booster" (usually PETN). Perhaps Mr. Hinrichs was simply ignorant, or perhaps he had malevolent plans.

There's really no evidence one way or another as to what Hinrichs was up to. One would surely had to be skeptical of the info that the Federal Bureau of Incompetents has put out (and, it is not at all clear that the OK City police informed the FBI about Hinrichs attempt to purchase ammonium nitrate. The fact that they should have notified the FBI does not mean that they did).

From what I've read about this case, it's still very much open. For all we know, Hinrichs could have been an FBI undercover operative...


Posted by: HenryB [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2005 9:24 AM