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Terrorism In America: The Oklahoma City Bombing

1079 words - 4 pages

Terrorism in America: The Oklahoma City Bombing

On April 19th 1995 the worst terrorist attack on US soil took place in the heartland of America. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was targeted and almost completely blown to pieces by one enormous homemade bomb. The unthinkable had happened at the beginning of an average day at the office. This day would be remembered for the rest of America's history, unlike any other day, as a blatant attack on the United States government.

At 9:03 a.m. a massive bomb resting inside a rented Ryder truck destroyed half of the nine story federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. It also claimed the lives of 169 men, women, and children, while injuring hundreds more. The bomb was made up of a deadly and potent mixture of two and a half tons of ammonium nitrate, a common farm fertilizer, and fuel oil then was packed inside the rented truck. The most frightening thing about this bomb was that its contents were cheap and very accessible to the public. Most gardening stores sell 50lbs bags of ammonium nitrate for $10. The substantial destruction from the bomb was luck more than anything. Former FBI bomb expert Denny Kline commented that "he made the biggest bomb he had accessible to him, placed the device outside, and hoped for the best, and in fact, it was the worst scenario" (Camp, 1995). It blew off the front end of the building, blowing up ceilings and collapsing floors, and burying victims under an immense amount of concrete and steel (Camp, 1995)

Just 90 minutes after the explosion, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol pulled over Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate. By April 21st, the 27-year-old Gulf War veteran would be known as the main suspect for the bombing and would subsequently be charged for the bombing. At the same time, Terry Nichols, McVeigh's old army buddy was wanted for questioning. He turned himself in, in Herington, Kansas, and was also charged with the bombing shortly after. (Clark, 1995)

There has been speculation that the bombing of the federal building was to demonstrate the anti-government feelings over the 1993 government raid of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco Texas. Both McVeigh and Nichols were once sited at the compound in Waco and were openly supporting the other Branch Davidians. The bombing occurred exactly two years to the day after the compound burned to the ground killing 80 men, women, and children after a 51-day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the FBI. The bombing definitely put the spotlight on other groups with anti-government sentiments.

McVeigh's trial was set for Denver, Colorado on March 31, 1997. On June 3rd 1997, the jury found McVeigh guilty of all 11 counts, including eight counts of first degree murder in the deaths of eight federal law-enforcement agents, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, using a weapon of mass destruction, and destruction of a federal building. The jury...

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