Skip to comments.Student's death brings out theories, fears (Norman bomber-spin alert)
Posted on 10/09/2005 11:22:54 AM PDT by JustaCowgirl
NORMAN - University of Oklahoma officials, the Muslim community, students and others are waiting for the FBI to connect the dots in last week's public suicide of an OU student.
Joel Henry Hinrichs III, 21, was killed Oct. 1 in an explosion that officials say he caused not far from a packed Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
But the dots cannot be connected, at least at this point, said Stephen Sloan, a former University of Oklahoma professor who is alarmed that far-right extremist groups have taken to the Internet with conspiracy theories attempting to link the actions of Hinrichs to the Muslim community of Norman and to the Middle East.
The FBI has provided little information about its investigation but said last week that there is no known link between Hinrichs and terrorist or extremist organizations. But questions linger as to Hinrichs' intent before he died in an explosion while sitting on a park bench in front of the George Lynn Cross microbiology building about 100 yards west of the stadium.
"No doubt there are a lot of questions to be answered," Sloan said. "But it is unfortunately logical to think that he was trying to get into the stadium."
The terrorism expert said the size of the explosion indicates that it was designed to hit more than Hinrichs. He said it seems more than coincidence that this occurred on the Saturday night of a football game.
A student, Adam Smith, related last week that he learned from a ticket taker at Gate 6 on the north side of the football field that a young man had tried to gain entrance. The ticket taker wanted to examine the man's backpack, which prompted the man to sprint away, Smith said he was told.
The FBI reportedly has confirmed that its review of surveillance cameras in the stadium did not reveal that Hinrichs tried to gain entrance. However, OU President David Boren declined at midweek to say whether cameras are mounted at all entrances.
The FBI has kept mum about the explosive that Hinrichs used and declined to comment on reports that large amounts of explosives were in his apartment.
The explosion that killed Hinrichs also burned a large area around the bench. If the explosion had occurred inside the stadium, it could have killed fans, prompting the question of whether that was Hinrichs' intent all along.
A suicide note apparently has not been found. Hinrichs' father, who had conversations with the FBI, told The Associated Press that his son did not leave a suicide note.
Joel Hinrichs Jr. told the Tulsa World that he knew his son was troubled, but he had no idea he wanted to die.
"I would have been there within whatever the speed limit would allow me to be if I had any inclination that he was this unhappy," the father said from his family's home in Colorado Springs the day after the explosion.
It remains unanswered as to whether Hinrichs could have concocted the explosive device on his own, although there are no indications he acted with others.
Those who knew of him -- from his high school teacher in Colorado Springs to fellow engineering students at OU -- said he was typically a loner who sat by himself in the classroom. He was among the National Merit Scholars whom Boren has attracted to the OU campus.
His father told the Colorado Springs Gazette that at an early age, Hinrichs was fascinated with science. At the time of his death, he was a third-year engineering student at OU.
Boren has said it appears this is an "individual suicide," noting that Hinrichs waited until people were inside the stadium before he took his life.
University officials say they have no record of Hinrichs having a season ticket or purchasing one for the OU-Kansas State game.
OU Vice President of Communications Catherine Bishop added, however, that the university has no way of knowing whether Hinrichs could have purchased a ticket from someone outside the stadium, where many people typ ically sell tickets on game day.
Sloan said the public should note the fact that if Hinrichs did try to get into the stadium, he was stopped.
"If Hinrichs was turned away, that is a positive mark in terms of security awareness," he said.
While Hinrichs' individual actions are still being probed, the Islamic community of Norman is on edge, fearful that this troubling event is somehow linked to Muslims.
"Haven't we learned from the bombing of the Murrah Building (in 1995) in Oklahoma City, when the first reports tried to tie the bombing to a foreigner from the Middle East?" Sloan said. "But that proved to be false.
"It is much too early to render a full judgment," said Sloan, who regrets that some people already are convinced this is a conspiracy.
Hinrichs lived at Parkview Apartments, just a few blocks from the mosque of the Islamic Society of Norman. Also fueling the link to some kind of Middle East terrorism is the fact that Hinrichs' roommate, Fazil Cheema, is from Pakistan. Acquaintances of Cheema's say he is not a practicing Muslim and never attends services at the mosque.
Muslims who attend the mosque also say they are not aware that Hinrichs ever set foot in the mosque.
The quest for the truth, however, has been hindered by the fact that Cheema himself has not made himself available to the media since the incident occurred. He has left the apartment where he lived with Hinrichs, although he is still believed to be in Norman.
Acquaintances say that Hinrichs and his roommate have in common the fact that both could be called loners, and possibly ended up as roommates at Parkview because neither of them had other friends, so they were assigned to live together.
Tariq Alzoubi, a Muslim who has been part of the Islamic community in Norman for several years, said when he found out that the individual who died was white and not Middle Eastern, "I was not happy, but I was relieved. Then the issue came up that his roommate might be Pakistani."
Originally from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Alzoubi said Muslims have been on edge when something like this happens ever since Sept. 11, 2001.
"Before 9-11, I knew 30 Saudi students at OU; all but two of them left," he said.
"My only concern in all of this is that we stay away from collective punishment for something bad that happened here," he said.
Mick Hinton (405) 528-2465 firstname.lastname@example.org
"Wow, what a brilliant statement.
The trouble with these "experts" is that they think everyone else is just plain stupid."
My fav part of the article was when he lambasted 'right-wing' bloggers for digging into the story and then said, to paraphase: 'Unfortunately, WE WERE LOGICAL'!! Laugh of the day! He is just a policy wonk from the old days. The days when no one wanted to look at the elephant in the room. I am sure he knows alot about the terrorism of old..but unfortunately, logic tells many of us it is a new ballgame. (rolling eyes)
Very possibly they do not want to be seen as extremists and draw attention to themselves
Note that the video cameras didn't pick up Joel exploding himself, either. Doesn't mean it didn't happen.
UPDATE ON THE PROF IN THE ARTICLE: Here is an interview with him from Sept.18, 2001. Pretty spot on for the most part(imho). My guess is that he said much more in that article and the liberal press cut and pasted what fits their own agenda.
"Well, I guess he and his roomie have a huge dorm room. If the "stuff is in question as to who it belonged to, I wonder why the other one didn't report it to the authorities."
This is the central question to the WHOLE STORY(imho). Blow this one wide open and the whole house of cards fall.
You be careful when you're out and about doing recon! Try to take a big Oklahoman with you or something (the hairy-legged variety).
There have been way too many facts from Oklahoma's terrorism-laden past to vanish from MSM scrutiny. I include Moussaoui and Berg as well as the 1995 bombing as well. Something is not right. I tried to go to Airman Flight School's website in Norman but the site is down since Sept. 15. Over 2000 others gone there and seen the same message.
Anyone in OK know why Airman Flight School has closed down???
You are absolutely right. He makes good sense in the posted interview that you linked.
"Something is not right"
...something is LEFT..(wink)..THE MEDIA
"Anyone in OK know why Airman Flight School has closed down???"
Are you certain that the flight school is shut down? Is this just on the basis of the website not responding?
OK, the notice on the website http://www.airmanflightschool.com is plain black text on a white background, stating that the school is closed until further notice, with a hit counter at 2028 as of my visit.
So, it is shut down. Since September 15.
u might like this link as well(post on the OU bombing and Boren's 'coverup' ) just 'goggling' tonight..lol. All is not lost in France either:
Have not had time to review the 'French' website..but this article tells me someone in France is not a left winged zealot bent on communism.
See the Wayback Machine at www.archive.org -- it allows you to see an archived copy of most web pages
It has been combined with OU flight school -- article in the Norman Transcript today. You have to check out the link and be sure to look at the picture for the article -- enlarge it.
He looks like he is from India to me..I hope he is Hindu!
I was on the 2nd floor of the parking garage and they are on the ground floor pointing at the back of the ticket booths. My car would have been seen on surveillance tape going out of the parking garage but I was there this week at the bookstore on campus and my daughter had my car parked there when she went to the library earlier today. There were probably 50 cars in the parking garage which is over the bookstore and near the library area.
The one on the SE corner if operational couldn't pick up cars driving by either.